The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) maintained yesterday that no new registrants have been added or removed from the voters’ register since the end of the continuous voter registration exercise.
In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has charged INEC and other government agencies involved in the electoral process with ensuring that the outcome of the 2023 general election was a true reflection of the people’s desires.
However, in response to the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) press conference on the Register of Voters for the 2023 general election, INEC stated that it recognised and respected citizens’ right to demand explanations from public agencies, whether as individuals or groups, including itself, and to hold them accountable.
But the commission said it was always important that caution was exercised so that such interventions did not unwittingly sow doubts in the public mind, thereby diminishing public confidence and trust in the electoral process.
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In a statement by the INEC National Commissioner in charge of information and chairman of Voter education, Festus Okocha, INEC said, “It is important to reiterate that no new registrant, has yet been added to the Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we restate the main components of these activities. First, the Commission is conducting a comprehensive Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) cleanup of the registration data by scrutinising every record.
“Based on the Electoral Act 2022, any record that does not meet all the criteria for inclusion as stipulated in Section 10, including the appearance in person by the registrant at the registration venue with proof of identity, age and nationality and our business rules requirements of adequate number of fingerprints and clear pictures will be invalidated.”
Further, Okoye said, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, after the ABIS and clean-up, the Commission shall appoint a period of seven days during which the register would be published for scrutiny by the public for objections and complaints.
He said, “It is only after the cleanup and claims and objections have been completed that the final register will be published,” and that INEC would continue to provide the public with updates on the progress of these processes, as it did through its press release of September12, 2022.
Accordingly, he said that the ABIS for the period of registration between 15th January and 31st July was being concluded presently, and the outcome in terms of multiple and ineligible records would be made public.
But, Atiku, in a press statement, by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, on the occasion marking the International Day for Democracy, said the celebration of democracy was a celebration of the people’s power.
He noted that although there had been significant improvements in the electoral processes, “the 2023 episode is an opportunity for INEC to show that the commission has grown beyond partisanship.
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“In 2023, Nigerians will be voting for the leadership that they truly believe will lead this country out of the current dire situation and it is important to use the opportunity of the celebration, this day, to tell not just the INEC but other agencies and non-governmental organisations involved in the conduct of election that the next election should be the freest and fairest ever in the history of Nigeria.
“Good governance is the ultimate end game. And the democracy that we practice is the only veritable vehicle that can drive us safely to the establishment of a government that will give us good governance and ensure that the rule of law is entrenched in our body politic.”