The Independent National Electoral Commission has revealed why about seven million Nigerians who started their pre-registration process could not complete their voter registration.
The commission recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre.
The National Electoral Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, INEC, Festus Okoye, in a chat with our correspondent on Tuesday, explained that most of those who could not complete the registration are Nigerians living in Diaspora.
Okoye, therefore, absolved the commission of any wrongdoing, saying the majority of the affected registrants could not have been able to appear in person as they are based abroad.
He said INEC is ready to avail data relating to online registration to various groups or individuals accusing the commission of disenfranchising the said seven million registrants from voting in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
He was reacting to the letter of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project dated August 13, 2022, and signed by the group’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, urging INEC to allow the seven million registrants to complete the CVR or face legal action.
SERAP had stated, “Denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters.
“The failure of the applicants to complete their registration may be due to factors entirely outside of their control, especially given the well-documented challenges faced by many Nigerians at registration centres across the country.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and the affected Nigerians shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in public interest.”
However, Okoye explained that some of the seven million registrants that SERAP alluded to are in diaspora, and could not meet the legal requirements and threshold of physical biometric capture as mandatorily provided in Section 10(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
He said, “SERAP should approach the commission and properly and comprehensively understand the processes and procedures of the commission. Their conclusive assertion of the existence of seven million disenfranchised registrants is a product of poor understanding of the processes and procedures of the commission. The commission is ready and willing to avail them of the data relating to online registration if they avail themselves of the option of engagement.
“The seven million individuals they alluded to are some of those that are in diaspora and could not meet the legal requirements and threshold of physical biometric capture as mandatorily provided in Section 10(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“Some of the seven million started the online pre registration and abandoned same and proceeded to carry out physical registration.”
Okoye added that the commission is currently carrying out adjudication and cleaning up the register, preparatory to the display for claims and objections.