The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected a plea from 70 civil society organisations (CSOs) to resume and prolong the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) activity, which had been halted by two months.
After extending the exercise from June 30 to July 31, the electoral umpire declared it had to be stopped on Sunday to protect the preparations for the general elections in 2023.
Over seven million Nigerians who pre-registered to vote online, according to information released by the commission yesterday, did not finish the procedure in person.
As a result, a coalition of more than 70 CSOs asked for a two-month extension of the exercise.
In June 2021, the INEC started the CVR exercise and created a portal where Nigerians could register by uploading their biodata and necessary documents, after which they would physically complete the procedure at INEC-designated centres. To complete the voter registration process, you had to visit a physical centre for biometric capture.
According to information provided by the commission, 10,487,972 Nigerians pre-registered online. Only 3,444,378 Nigerians out of this total, or 32.8%, finished the process at a physical centre.
As a result, 7,043,594 people—or more than 67 per cent of those who started the registration procedure online—are ineligible to get a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) prior to the 2023 general elections and will be unable to cast a ballot in those elections.
While the INEC reported that 12,298,944 Nigerians had finished the voter registration process, it also noted that 8,854,566 of those people had completed their registration totally at a physical location.
Prior to the elections in 2023, INEC had set a deadline of June 30 for the CVR, but it was extended to July 31 after a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered it to continue the process and in response to several requests from Nigerians and CSOs.
To prevent depriving the populace of their right to vote in the upcoming election, a coalition of more than 70 CSOs yesterday asked for the voter registration process to be extended by another two months.
Insisting that “there is still a window for extension in conformity with the Electoral Act, 2022,” the alliance, which operates under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, called for an extension of the election to accommodate more potential voters.
Despite INEC’s claims of a smooth process, the Situation Room claimed it had heard complaints of a time-consuming registration process in the just finished CVR exercise.
“Situation Room further notes that the CVR, which ended on 31st July 2022, will leave many willing Nigerians disenfranchised from the 2023 polls even when the Commission can stretch itself a bit more to continue registering voters,” the CSOs said.
The CSOs further urged the Federal Government to address the current economic difficulties, including the alarming unemployment rate, the falling value of the dollar, and the financial hardship of the nation’s residents, in a statement released in Abuja yesterday.
It argued that the FG must refrain from raising taxes or enacting new taxes, particularly the proposed excise fee of 5% on telecommunications services in Nigeria, which would bring the levy to 12.5%.
The Situation Room suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari must urgently overhaul the entire security structure of the country in light of the status of the country.
“The state of insecurity in the country has deteriorated so much that non-state armed men are now threatening most parts of the country with various nomenclature like Bandits, Boko Haram, Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Kidnappers and Unknown Gunmen.
“According to reports, ISWAP and Boko Haram insurgents, having occupied some territories in the North East of the country, are now encroaching into Abuja and the rest of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Bandits continuous raids on villages fuelled by the kidnapping of helpless villagers in the North West States of Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi have continued unchallenged.
“The abduction of road users on the Abuja – Kaduna highway has been a major concern, bearing in mind that some of the March 2022 passengers of the Abuja – Kaduna bound train are still in captivity.
“Recently, Kuje Medium Security Correctional Facility in Abuja was raided by the insurgents leading to the release of high-profile terrorists from the prison without strong resistance from security personnel, despite 45 security reports and warnings of the imminent attack,”they said.
Decline requests to extend voters registration, the INEC said that the electoral timetable could not entertain any further stretching. We can no longer extend CVR deadline, INEC insists
“The Commission will not extend the CVR deadline because of the various activities it needs to carry out before the 2023 General Election”, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, told Vanguard, on Tuesday.