2023 Elections: Over 30m citizens yet to be captured as registered voters in Nigeria, 20m others denied PVCs — Intersociety | NN NEWS

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has said that more than 30million Nigerian citizens have not been registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and 20 million others have been denied Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

In a statement in Onitsha on Monday, June 27, 2022,  and signed by its Principal Officers; Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche Esquire and Chidimma Udegbunam Esquire, Intersociety said such disenfranchisement is not only ill-conceived and politically motivated but constitutes a serious threat to local, national, regional and international peace and security, as well as a breach of the citizens’ constitutional rights.

The statement titled: “INEC Has Not Registered Over 30m Citizens,” partly reads: It is the authoritative position of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) that no fewer than 30 million citizens of Nigeria involving those in 18 years and above have been denied registration as ‘registered voters’ in Nigeria by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the all-important 2023 Presidential Election.

“Intersociety hereby makes bold to say that none capturing of these 30m Nigerian citizens or more is ill-conceived and politically motivated. As if this was not enough, the Commission has inexplicably and suspiciously shut down its online fresh voters’ registration portal, thereby shutting out millions of computer literate prospective registrants and forcing millions of others into frustration and registration center accessibility hardships.

“It must therefore be clearly stated that denying eligible citizens, irrespective of their tribe, religion, gender and class, their rights to vote (political participation and inclusion) is a serious violation of their fundamental human rights. Such chaotic denial also constitutes a serious threat to local, national, regional and international peace and security.

“It is also a serious breach of the citizens’ constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and association and freedom from discrimination and their counterpart provisions in the Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of UN 1976 (ratified by Nigeria in 1993) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of 1981 (ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983).”

Quoting available local and international statistics to buttress its point, the group has this to say: “This informed position of ours is according to available national and international demographic statistics. According to the current United Nations population statistics, including the Worldometer (world’s live statistics on population, economy and so on), Nigeria’s estimated population as at 25th June, 2022, is 216, 225, 495 or 216.5m, out of which 55% or about 120m represent those in 18 years and above. By INEC’s recent official statistics tracked in several print and online media, the total registered voters in the country as at Feb 2019 was 84m with a fraction of others captured between July 2016 and Dec 2021. INEC also recently announced that as at May 2022, it had registered 10.2m Nigerians, out of which 6.5m were successfully captured; with 4.5m being youths in 19 and 34 age bracket.

“It is most likely correct to say that not less than 30m eligible citizens in Nigeria have not been registered as voters by INEC. Also no fewer than 20m registered voters have been denied their Permanent Voters Cards by the Commission. An estimated total of 10m others presently contained in Nigeria’s National Register of Voters are strongly suspected to still bear the identities of minors and allowed illegal aliens. In other words, the present National Register of Voters still bears roguish outlook and can only be credible, nationally acceptable across religious and ethnic divides and factored in coherence with the Commission’s newly acquired and imputed ‘Voter’s Enrolment Device (IReV)’ and ‘Bimodal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS)’ when it is cleansed and rid of the estimated over 10m minors and aliens and updated to accommodate the 30m eligible but unregistered Nigerians. Therefore, the current National Register of Voters for 2023 Presidential/General Elections can only be widely or country-wide credible and acceptable if it is genuinely cleansed and rid of the 10m minors and illegal aliens as well as dead and dormant citizens.”

Intersociety also said that the National Voters’ Register to be used for 2023 polls must contain 100m-110m PVCs holders as against the present PVC holders in Nigeria put at 64m voters. The group also condemned what it referred to as double policies of the commission and insisted that INEC’s policies from registration of voters/issuance of their PVCs to the conduct of all elections in the country must fully reflect same policies and conducts across board throughout the country.

“The National Register of Voters to be used in the forthcoming Presidential Election and auxiliary others must be that containing ‘110m-120m registered voters in Nigeria with at least 100m-110m PVCs holders’. This is against the present PVC holders in Nigeria put at 64m voters. The citizens’ strongly suspected double policies of the Commission whereby the Commission during Presidential Election applies two policies of strict application of its technologies especially its “Voters’ Enrolment Device (IReV) and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS)” (formerly Card Readers) in the South (especially Southeast, South-South and non natives held areas in the Southwest) or administratively causes widespread failure of such technologies in the named Southern parts; and programmes same with widespread success frequency or substantial reversion to manual accreditation and voting in the North (i.e. Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Niger, Bauchi, Jigawa, non-Southern Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Gombe) must stop and be discontinued. The INEC’s policies from registration of voters/issuance of their PVCs to the conduct of all elections in the country must fully reflect same policies and conducts across board throughout the country.”

In addition, Intersociety said its recent field checks revealed that an estimated 20 million unregistered voters were found in the South and 10 million in the northern part of the country. The group also said INEC’s one registration for five PVC seekers in Southeast and four for five in the non-Christian North and other forms of bureaucracy have resulted in millions of eligible citizens remaining in their homes.

The statement reads further: “From our recent field checks, estimated 20m unregistered voters are found in the South, out of which 10m eligible voters in the Southeast are yet to be captured by INEC. Estimated 4.5m others are yet to be captured in the South-South while 5.5m remained unregistered in the South-West. Many, if not most, of those affected in the South-West are non-natives, especially members of Igbo Ethnic Nationality residing in Lagos and Ogun states. Out of the 10m unregistered voters in the North, at least 40%-50% are non-northerners, especially members of Igbo Ethnic Nationality; 35%-40% are non-Muslim northerners while remaining 10% belong to Muslim citizens. Apart from threats of violence from radical natives, especially the Muslims, being responsible for widespread disenfranchisement of the named segment (.i.e. pastoral Igbo citizens) of the population, they are further disenfranchised through deliberately created bureaucratic hitches, including shrinking number of registration centers/polling booths in their held areas, inadequate number of INEC’s manpower and registration machines and malfunctioning of such machines. These are also the case during the issuance and collection of PVCs.

“It is our further finding from our field checks across the country’s six geopolitical regions of Nigeria that “in the Southeast, out of every five prospective registrants in the queue at every INEC registration center, only one is  physically captured or registered; in the South-South, out of every five, only two are captured; in the South-West, out of every five in the native held areas, at least three are captured and in its non native held areas (i.e. Igbo populated areas), out of every five, only one is captured. Also in the native Muslim held areas in the North; out of every five, four are captured; in the non-Muslim native held areas, out of every five, only two are captured; and in the non-native/non-Muslim held areas in the North, including rural parts of the FCT, out of every five, only one is captured as a voter.

“From random interviews conducted by Intersociety in several quarters especially in the Southeast and some native quarters in the North and the South-West, it was found that several millions of eligible citizens have remained in their homes on account of the above highlighted bureaucratic hitches. Hundreds of thousands have gone to INEC registration centers severally without being captured or registered as voters and went home never to go again. These explain why INEC hurriedly and suspiciously shut down its online fresh registration portal since 30th May 2022, leaving behind those involving revalidation, transfers and updating,” Intersociety alleged.

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