From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a civil society group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has by its action denied and excluded about 77.4 million citizens of voting age have from participation and voting during the country’s presidential election slated for 25th February 2023.
The group in a press statement yesterday signed by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi and two others described the action as “industrial scale” damages to the country’s crucial Presidential Election and also said that while the whopping 77.4m Nigerian citizens of voting age were disenfranchised from participating and voting in the 2023 General Elections, the Commission has turned around and allowed estimated 15m ghost names, minors and migrants to be smuggled into the country’s National Register of Voters as “registered voters” till date.
“The disenfranchised 77.4m prospective voters include 30m denied registration in the 2021/2022 Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR), 29.3m registered voters still denied PVCs since 2019 and 31st July 2022 and 18.1m of the 27.4m new registrations disenfranchised and destroyed by the Commission.
“As it stands today, these 77.4m citizens of voting age cannot participate and vote in Nigeria’s General Elections of 2023, especially in the 2023 Presidential Poll. This is more so when participation and voting in Nigerian Elections are not all comers affair. To participate and vote, voters must bear validated INEC-issued PVCs. “
The group also said that 30m citizens of voting age in Nigeria were never registered during the 2021/2022 Continous Voter Regsitration while its investigations so far have revealed that 15m of the 96m registered voters in the country were illegitimately and unlawfully registered by INEC as “voters” including independently estimated 10m illegal aliens and under-age children and 5m registered fictitious or ghost names recently exposed by CUPP.
“Total of 18.1m of total 27.4m new (2022) registrations involving citizens of voting age were deliberately destroyed by INEC during CVR held between 28th June 2021 and 31st July 2022; leaving only 9.3m or 32% validated. They had included 7m-11m successful online registrants shut out and massively disenfranchised by the Commission over its failure to capture their physical biometrics at designated registration centres across the country before the closure of the CVR exercise on 31st July 2022, 1.12m destroyed by INEC between 28th June 2021 and 12th Jan 2022; 1.85m destroyed by the Commission between 1st Jan and 28th June 2022; 1.1m destroyed by the Commission in Jan 2022 and 2.7m destroyed from 31st July to 12th Oct 2022.”
“These are according to INEC’s publicly released official statistics and did not include 19.1m online applicants recorded by the Commission during the recent CVR exercise including those who attempted registering online but discontinued owing to one reason or the other. A total of 29.3m registered voters are still denied PVCs by INEC and as it stands today, they are ineligible to participate and vote in any election in Nigeria or any part thereof; whether bye-election, legislative, governorship, local government or presidential,” the group said.