Politics

Despite insecurity, INEC to continue voters registration, releases election guidelines

By TUNDE JOSHUA

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday promised to continue voters registration which was suspended on the account of insecurity in troubled areas of the country.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave this assurance at a special meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to review security arrangements for the Ekiti Governorship Election held at INEC headquarters, Abuja.

This is as the Commission released regulations and guidelines for the 2023 general election.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Co-Chair of ICCES, Heads of various security agencies and National Commissioners were at the meeting. Also at the meeting were the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ekiti State, Dr Adeniran Rahmon Tella, the state Commissioner of Police, Moronkeji Adesina, Secretary to the Commission and Senior officials of the Commission.

Though INEC set June 30 deadline for suspension of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), the commission is reconsidering its stand because of the continued surge of Nigerians in listed areas to get registered before the deadline.

The INEC chairman said “Nigerians may recall that the ongoing CVR started a year ago. For the first time, the Commission introduced online pre-registration as well as physical registration at designated centres. “As the deadline for the suspension of the CVR i.e. 30th June 2022 approaches, long queues are building up, especially in some states in the South East, Lagos, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Commission had anticipated the last-minute surge and therefore established additional centres and deployed more machines to register citizens. “Unfortunately, the security situation in many parts of the country has not allowed full deployment as planned.

In some states of the Federation, INEC registration officers were attacked resulting not only in the unfortunate destruction of buildings and loss of equipment but even worse, the death of a staff. This has forced the closure of some of the registration centres.

“However, in view of the surge, additional machines will be deployed to some of the most congested areas to ease the surge. Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been directed to liaise with the security agencies and stakeholders on the possibility of reopening some of the centres earlier closed because of insecurity, but in doing so, they must always bear in mind the safety of registrants and registration officials. “

Furthermore, the RECs are directed to do more to provide information, increase awareness of the processes and more promptly respond to genuine complaints by citizens.”

He said the Commission appreciated the support of partners and critical stakeholders in mobilising citizens to register while looking forward to such partnership to encourage registered voters to collect their PVCs and for increased voter turnout on election day.

Yakubu said with the coming into force of the Electoral Act 2022, it has become necessary to review the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines to govern the conduct of elections, adding that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and the Regulations and Guidelines constitute the electoral legal framework.

He said “on several occasions, the Commission has assured Nigerians that we are finalizing the Regulations and Guidelines for the elections. I am glad to announce that the document is ready and will be presented to Nigerians shortly. The soft copy will be uploaded to our website with the link shared on our social media platforms.

“With the release of the Regulations and Guidelines today, and the publication of the Strategic Plan (SP) 2022-2026 and Election Project Plan 2023 earlier, the Commission has virtually concluded the planning processes for the 2023 General Election nine months ahead of the election.

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“In the next couple of weeks, the training manual will also be presented to Nigerians. Going forward, the Commission will focus on election administration: logistics, training, voter education, technology, sensitization against vote-buying, inclusivity measures and, above all, security. ICCES will continue to play a critical role and the Commission appreciates the support of all security agencies.”

With only 15 days to the Ekiti governorship election, the Commission said all the major activities that are supposed to be carried out at this stage have been successfully undertaken.“

I led a team of INEC National Commissioners to Ekiti State early this week to assess the Commission’s preparations for the elections. We visited our offices in several Local Government Areas, held meetings with our staff, had an audience with the Council of Obas to solicit the support of their Royal Majesties for peaceful elections and met with the security agencies.

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