INEC denies operating registration centres in Niger Republic

THE Chief Press Secretary to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Rotimi Oyekanmi has denied reports that the commission is operating polling units in Niger Republic.

There are unconfirmed reports on the social media that INEC has been registering voters in some parts of the neighbouring country.

A Facebook user, Uche Nwabuike, had in a post, alleged that INEC was operating some illegal registration centres outside Nigeria.

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Oyekanmi debunked the reports while speaking at a Twitter space organised by The ICIR on Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) registration.

He described the reports as baseless.

“By virtue of the provisions of the Constitution, all elections must take place in Nigeria. And to that extent, we cannot register voters or conduct elections in Nigeria.

“This is why Nigerians in the Diaspora cannot vote from abroad,” he said.

Oyekanmi disclosed that the number of Nigerians who had completed the voter registration process as of the end of June was 8.6 million, comprising 4.4 million women and 4.29 million men.

Meanwhile, Oyekanmi noted that the online PVC registration on INEC’s portal which lasted for 11 months was to ensure a speedy registration process but he observed that some Nigerians failed to take advantage of the process.

“During the first three months, we had days where two or three persons will turn up daily in the registration units but when it was close to the deadline, people started coming out calling for an extension,” he said.

He added that the deadline for voter registration was not indefinite and assured registered voters of their PVCs by October 22.

A Twitter user who described himself as Ephraim James, from Zaria, Kaduna State, said the large number of people who turn out for registration daily has made the process more cumbersome.

“Sometimes we get to the registration units at 4:00 am but we will have to stay in the queue for hours only to have 40-50 people registered daily which makes it tough,” he said.

An administrative officer at Go Nigeria, Josephine Moses, said the civil society organisation devised several incentives, including gifts, to persuade youths to get registered.

She also pointed out that some registration units are operating from the homes of politicians, a development which contradicts the position of the Constitution on interference by individuals.

The INEC official, Oyekanmi, promised to investigate the claims within the ambit of the law and commended Nigerians for their support.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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