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INEC planned ending of PVC distribution, denial of voters’ rights- CLOs

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INEC planned ending of PVC distribution, denial of voters’ rights- CLOs

By Michael Mike

A coalition of civil liberty organisations (CLO) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to bury the planned discontinuation of distribution of permanent voters’ cards (PVC), insisting that since this would disenfranchised many eligible voters, it is unlawful and a denial of voters’ rights.

Addressing a press conference on Friday in Abuja, representative of groups including Enough is Enough Nigeria, #FixPolitics, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), Reclaim Naija (aka Community Life Project – CLP), The Electoral College Nigeria, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), ConnectHub, Dataphyte, Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC), Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC) and Yiaga Africa while insisting that most of the reasons for non- collection of PVC are inflicted by the electoral body, said:
“Denying these voters their right to vote due to a failure on the part of INEC is unacceptable.”

They said. “According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards will end this Sunday, January 29th  at 5pm.
However, reports from voters in different collection centres across the country revealed that some validly registered voters were informed by the INEC officials that their PVCs were not available; while some others were asked to return on a later day beyond the deadline or after the election to collect their PVCs.

“This is a breach of the Electoral Act 2022 which mandates INEC in Section 16(1) to design, print and issue voter’s cards to voters whose names appear in the register of voters. INEC also, had further committed to and promised that everyone registered and, in their database, will have their PVC provided and available for collection.

The emphasis on a deadline for collection is an indirect disenfranchisement of validly registered voters whose PVCs are not available due to INEC’s administrative lapses. Denying these voters their right to vote due to a failure on the part of INEC is unacceptable.”

They added that: “And to be clear, this is not only a problem in Lagos. Citizens have provided reports from Abuja, Rivers, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ondo, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Borno, Sokoto, Ogun, Kano, & Kwara.

“We also note the concern of the students who registered at home while tertiary institutions were shut down for over 8 months. According to INEC, 40% of the 9, 518,188 newly registered voters are students. If they registered at home and are now at school, INEC must ensure they can pick up their cards in the least expensive way possible.”

They said given the reported challenges, INEC should inform Nigerians if it is still printing cards and when all the cards for registered voters will be available for collection; extend PVC collection to ensure that everyone whose cards were not found are reprinted, and there is a clear process for them to pick up the cards; work with the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to ensure that there are no classes or exams the week before elections so students can go home to vote.

They also advised that INEC should communicate with newly registered voter’s especially students when the PVCs are ready; create a dedicated desk for civil society organisations, media and citizens to escalate the issues being observed for quick resolution.

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