Underage Registration Mar INEC Voter Enrollment

… We’ll display list of voters for claims, objections – INEC

A report released by a Civil Society Organisation, Yiaga Africa shows that there is underage registration in the ongoing Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voter enrollment exercise.

 

But INEC has in a swift reaction, said at the end of the first quarter of registration, the Commission will display the list of voters for claims and objections adding that they will do de-duplication to remove ineligible registrants since constitutionally and legally, only those that have attained 18 years and above and have not registered before are eligible to register.

 

According to the Yiaga Africa’s report, there are no security personnels in most of the enrollment centres across the country, despite security challenges.

 

The report signed by the Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said there was registration of Ineligible Voters (Underage Voters) on July 29 in Langtang North LGA in Plateau and Madobi and Kano Municipal
LGAs in Kano state.
“The reports of absence of security personnel at some of the registration centres is worrying given the security concerns across most states of the Federation and the previous attacks to some INEC offices and properties in some LGA’s. The INEC’s guidelines stipulate that at least two security officials should be stationed at each registration centre at all times during the registration hours. This is crucial in order to forestall any plan to disrupt the process,” Yiaga Africa said.

 

Also, Yiaga Africa said reports from the INEC registration centres in Gombi, Jada, Mubi North & Mubi South LGAs in Adamawa State revealed that on Monday, July 26, the INEC registration officials could not use the INEC Voter Enrollment Dices (IVED) due to the challenge of poor internet connectivity.

“Also, on July 26, in some locations such as Akuku Toru, Phalga, Tai, and Opobo/Nkoro LGAs in Rivers State, a few persons were enrolled as the IVED was taking over five minutes to enrol each registrant. This was also the situation at Aguata LGA of Anambra state where registration officials could not attend to the majority of the registrants before closing for the day, due to connectivity challenges in the course of registration,” the CSO said adding that it deployed 171 Watching the Vote observers in six states selected from six geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that they were purposely selected based on the number of registered voters, political, religious and ethnic diversities and the upcoming off-cycle elections.

Yiaga Africa said all Local Government Areas of Anambra, Lagos, Rivers, Adamawa, Kano, and Plateau States and the FCT had observers in the 158 INEC
registration centres fron Monday, July 26 and on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

The report also revealed that some of the IVED officials are not being able to access the device because of password issues, slow internet connectivity, slow performance of the device and malfunctioning of the IVED in some locations.

 

“Reports from the INEC registration centres in Gombi, Jada, Mubi North & Mubi South LGAs in Adamawa State revealed that on Monday, July 26, the INEC registration officials could not use the IVED due to the challenge of poor internet connectivity.

 

“Also, on July 26, in some locations such as Akuku Toru, Phalga, Tai, and Opobo/Nkoro LGAs in Rivers State, a few persons were enrolled as the IVED was taking over five minutes to enrol each registrant. This was also the situation at Aguata LGA of Anambra state where registration officials could not attend to the majority of the registrants before closing for the day, due to connectivity challenges in the course of registration,” the report said.

 

While calling on INEC to ensure proper oversight of the process in the second week of the registration, Yiaga Africa said proper oversight will
reasonably address the issue like the clarity by some registration officials on
the status of citizens who have commenced the process online and prospective voters who are accessing the process physically for the first time.

“INEC should also investigate reports of
underage registration and ensure that there is a proper system in place to
quarantine the data of underage registrants. In addition, registration officers should request for registrants who appear underage to provide their birth certificate or any document that justifies eligibility,” the report added.

Yiaga Africa also called on the security agencies to work better with INEC to ensure adequate deployment of security personnel to the voter registration centres.

Also, the CSO urged political parties to adopt the election cycle approach and ensure the deployment of their agents to oversee the registration process adding that some centres are not opened while others had the process suspended because of restriction of movement across some LGAs.

Speaking on the report, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said even though the group did not provide the evidence on which they anchored their emerging concerns on the registration of underaged voters, added they will wait for a copy of the report and determine the evidence provided.

“At the end of the first quarter of registration, the Commission will display the list of voters for claims and objections. Thereafter the Commission will do de-duplication to remove ineligible registrants. Constitutionally and legally, only those that have attained 18 years and above and have not registered before are eligible to register. If we have concrete evidence of any infraction of the Constitution and the law, the Commission will definitely investigate same,” Okoye added.

 

 

 

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Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said the allegation by YIAGA Africa is not consistent with the policy of the Commission with regard to the on-going Continuous Voter Registration.

“No INEC Registration Officer will register a visibly under-age person in any part of the country. In the event that the Officer has doubts about the real age of any individual before him or her, that individual would be asked to provide proof of his age and he or she must comply

 

“It will be helpful if YIAGA could oblige the Commission with detailed evidence of its allegations to enable the Commission to carry out an investigation,” he added.

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