……. Is not true, Says REC
By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
Hundreds of aggrieved registered voters residing in Borno state have on Sunday accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC of its refusal to issue out their Permanent Voters’ Card, PVCs, despite their frantic efforts of visiting INEC offices to obtain such on daily basis.
This is coming barely in less than 12 hours for INEC to stop the collection of PVCs across the country.
They alleged that the electoral body in the state has connived with one of the opposition parties (name withheld) to disenfranchise thousands of illegible voters in the forthcoming general elections.
The spokesman of the group, Mr Ishaku Yakubu threatened INEC to do the needful in the next 48 hours, or be sued in Court.
But reacting to the allegation, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC) INEC, Mohammed Magaji Ibrahim said, the allegation is far from the truth, even as he challenge anybody who has the problem of not collecting his/her PVCs to fill the complaint booklet which will be forwarded to the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.
Although the REC declined to give the actual number of PVCs collected or uncollected so far in the state, he said, ” I cannot give you the update for now, but will do so after 6 pm or thereabout today”.
Yakubu’s text reads: “The many persons you see here afternoon and a host of many others who has not been able to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards having duly registered and found our names in the INEC official Electronic Voters Register.
“Some may wonder why waited till now to raise this concern, as INEC has given us all the trust in hope that we would get our PVCs before the dateline, but sadly enough, today (Sunday 6th February 2023) is the official dateline for collection of PVCs with no announcement regarding any extension, unfortunately, INEC in Borno state is still telling people to go and come back.
“We have people in their thousands (including myself) who have been going to the INEC offices for the collection of their PVCs registered under the most difficult situations and inconvenience but are yet to get it.
“INEC has previously announced to the media that all PVCs are ready for collection and lament how Nigerians are not coming out, meanwhile, we queue up at their offices and ward levels to get PVCs only to be told that our PVCs are not ready, come back in 3 days, come back in one week and stories like that.
“We have reasons to believe that there is a sinister plan to disenfranchise thousands of people as there appears to be no reason for holding up the PVCs.
“All of us here and many others who registered, transferred or requested for replacement of lost/damaged cards particularly last year (2022) between May and July have not been given their PVCs.
“Today is the final dateline according to INEC and people are being asked to go and come back.
“On a phone call with the Head of Voter Education in Borno, Ibrahim Shaibu, he didn’t sound any different from what we have been told since 12th December 2022.
“He (Shaibu) pointed out that everyone has gotten their PVCs except those who did double registration, but this is far from reality. We have in this hall people who did something as simple as an update, transfer of polling unit or request for lost cards who are yet to collect their PVCs and these run into thousands who are willing and have been going to INEC offices and their cards cannot be found.
” To this end, we demand first and foremost that INEC make a public declaration that they will provide all PVCs duly registered which they claim has not been printed.
“This should not end at just a promise, those cards should be printed and distributed as appropriate.
“Secondly, the deadline should not affect those who for no fault of theirs have not been able to get their cards.
and lastly, INEC should caution its staff who have been telling people they won’t get their cards till after the elections (we have evidence of such utterances in clips and videos). Yakubu lamented.
Also lamenting, Emmanuel Nduebeze, who had earlier registered in Lagos, but seek for transfer to Maiduguri which is his base now, said, he was at Old Maiduguri Police Station where one of the INEC branch offices is located, said, ” I was told that I should wait until after the 2023 general elections to enable exercise my franchise in 2027.”
However, the REC, Magaji said, “the so-called aggrieved group are only looking for trouble, or they are among those engaged in multiple registrations that were automatically cancelled, and would not get their PVCs based on the Electoral Act 2022.”
On the allegation that INEC has been telling people to come tomorrow or next week for collection of PVCs but to no avail, he said, “we are not the one printing the PVCs, the PVCs are been printed in Abuja, this is the reality.”
Regarding the number of collected or uncollected PVCs, the REC said, “I cannot give you the update for now, but will do so after 6 pm or thereabout today”.
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