2023: INEC assures of credible polls, dismisses CUPP’S claims

By Charles Onyekwere

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has assured Nigerians of its preparedness for credible general elections come 2023.

The commission also dismissed claims by the coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on the Register of Voters for the forthcoming polls in the country.

This is contained in a statement signed by INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye and made available to newsmen on Wednesday.

According to Okoye, the commission recognises and respects the right of citizens, either as individuals or groups to demand an explanation from public agencies, including INEC, and hold them accountable.

The commission’s statement read in part: “The attention of the Commission has been drawn to a report of a press conference addressed by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on the Register of Voters for the 2023 general election.

“The Commission recognizes and respects the right of citizens, either as individuals and groups, to demand an explanation from public agencies, including INEC, and to hold them accountable.

“However, it is always important that caution is exercised so that such interventions do not unwittingly sow doubts in the public mind, thereby diminishing public confidence and trust in the electoral process.

“Nigerians would recall that on 31st July 2022, the Commission suspended the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to commence supplemental activities that will culminate in the integration of new registrants into the final Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election.

“It is important to reiterate that no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we restate the main components of these activities.

“First, the Commission is conducting a comprehensive Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) cleanup of the registration data by scrutinizing every record.

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“Based on the Electoral Act 2022, any record that does not meet all the criteria for inclusion as stipulated in Section 10, including the appearance in person by the registrant at the registration venue with proof of identity, age and nationality and our business rules requirements of an adequate number of fingerprints and clear pictures will be invalidated.

“Further, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, after the ABIS and clean up, the Commission shall appoint a period of seven days during which the register will be published for scrutiny by the public for objections and complaints.

“Finally, it is only after the cleanup and claims and objections have been completed that the final register will be published.

Continuing, Okoye stated that the Commission will provide the public with updates on the progress of the processes, as they did through the Press Release of 12 September, 2022.

“The ABIS for the period of registration between 15th January and 31st July is being concluded presently, and the outcome in terms of multiple and ineligible records will be made public.

“For instance, in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, where the Commission allegedly registered ineligible persons, 3,316 ineligible registrants have so far been invalidated and the process is still ongoing.

“We appeal to the public to await the Commission’s display of the register for claims and objections to raise any concerns that they may have about the registration.

“We reiterate that our ABIS is robust and will detect practically all the ineligible records for removal.”

Okoye reassured Nigerians of the Commission’s commitment to the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria.

While also appealing for support and painstakingly dealing with the cleanup of the register, INEC promised that the processes will guarantee free, fair credible and inclusive come 2023 elections.

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