The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has officially condemned the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, for flouting the electoral act by registering again in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise, after having originally registered in Abuja.
INEC’s national commissioner and chairman voter education committee,Solomon Soyebi, in a statement described the act as illegal, but added that the commission could not charge the Governor because he enjoys constitutional immunity.
Soyebi also pointed out that it was illegal for the governor to have invited INEC officials to come and register him in his office rather than going to the registration office as is provided for in the law.
“The Governor’s double registration and doing so outside INEC’s designated centres are both illegal,” Soyebi said.
He also denied that INEC authorized its staff to “re-register him (Governor Bello) or any citizen or to do so outside our designated CVR centres”.
The commissioner confirmed that Bello was first registered at Wuse Zone 4,Abuja, on January 30, 2011, but illegally did so again on May 23, during the ongoing continuous voters registration exercise, in his Lokoja, Kogi State, office.
He said the commission “is taking disciplinary action against the INEC staff involved”, but “as for the State Governor, Section 308(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) precludes INEC from prosecuting him while in office.”
“However, INEC wishes to state that it has cancelled his second and illegal registration forthwith because our Electoral Law and the Commission’s guidelines make no exception for anyone to register more than once and outside the designated areas,” Soyebi said.
However, Soyebi in his statement did not address the claims made by Governor Bello’s spokesman, Kingsley Fanwo, saying that his principal made several efforts to get the INEC to transfer his voting centre from Abuja to Lokoja without success.
INEC had said that the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise is intended for citizens who just attained the age of 18 or who for any reason have not registered before.
Those who had registered but their names for some reason do not appear on the voter register, may also register again.