INEC Seeks Population Commission’s Partnership to Clean Up Voters’ Register

INEC Seeks Population Commission’s Partnership to Clean Up Voters’ Register

…Says Names of Dead, Ineligible Persons Need to be Expunged …Registers Over 3 Million Fresh Voters …Restates Resolve to Conduct Free, Fair Election The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has implored the National Population Commission (NPC) to periodically avail the electoral body the data of deceased Nigerians to further enhance the credibility of the nation’s

…Says Names of Dead, Ineligible Persons Need to be Expunged

…Registers Over 3 Million Fresh Voters

…Restates Resolve to Conduct Free, Fair Election

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has implored the National Population Commission (NPC) to periodically avail the electoral body the data of deceased Nigerians to further enhance the credibility of the nation’s voters’ register.

This is coming just as the Commission says it has registered over 3 million voters since the commencement of the online voter registration process 12 weeks ago.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the request when he received the Chairman NPC, Mr Isa Kwarra, who paid him a courtesy visit at INEC headquarters in Abuja on Friday.

He said that the commission needed the data to remove names of dead persons from the voter register.

Yakubu said that INEC had the largest biometric register of Nigerians, with photographs and fingerprint information for voter authentication.

He said that in order to make the voters’ register more robust, INEC had been periodically cleaning it up by removing ineligible persons or multiple registrants from it using a combination of technology.

“At present, technology cannot help us to identify and remove dead persons from the voters’ register.

“Therefore, I wish to once more appeal to the Chairman of the NPC, in your capacity as the registrar of births and deaths in Nigeria, to periodically avail us of the data of deceased Nigerians.

“This is important so that we can use the official information from your Commission to further clean up the voters’ register.

“Perhaps you may wish to start by availing us with the list of prominent Nigerians who have passed on, civil and public servants compiled from the official records of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other Nigerians from hospital and funeral records across the country,” Yakubu said.

He said that doing this may be a herculean task, but INEC was confident that NPC had the capacity to do so.

Yakubu said that over the years, the two commissions have been collaborating in carrying out their statutory duties and would continue to explore more areas of cooperation to serve Nigerians better.

He said that INEC has the statutory responsibility in organising elections, reviewing the division of the States of the Federation into Senatorial Districts, Federal and State constituencies as well as Wards in the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory.

Yakubu stated that over the years, the two commissions had embarked on one of the most imaginative and extensive inter-agency collaborations in Nigeria, in the area of delimitation of boundaries of electoral constituencies.

He said also that over the years, officials of the two commissions undertook a joint project to demarcate the boundaries of INEC’s Registration Areas (RAs)/Wards with NPC’s Enumeration Areas (EAs), the initiative known as the RA/EAD Project.

The INEC boss said that the idea was to enable the commission to easily delimit and periodically review electoral constituencies based on NPC’s figures whenever there was a new population census, saying this cannot be achieved without accurate population data.

“This is partly why no constituencies have been delimited in Nigeria since the last exercise was carried out 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).

“Working together with the Population Commission, we are determined to make a difference this time around, just as we solved the problem of voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria.

“We have already prepared and produced a Discussion Paper on electoral constituencies in Nigeria looking at the issues more broadly, including the imperative of a new population census.

“We will share copies of the paper with the NPC at this meeting.

“So far, within the framework of the RA/EAD project, we have jointly covered 261 LGAs nationwide.

“I am aware that NPC has covered more LGAs. Going forward, we are finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will be signed very soon.

“In the MoU, we have more clearly defined the scope and duration of our collaboration as well as the responsibilities of the two Commissions,” he said.

Yakubu assured Nigerians that INEC and the NPC would continue to strengthen their existing collaboration to work for Nigeria and Nigerians.

Earlier, Kwarra said the NPC management was at INEC to further enhance the existing collaboration between the two commissions.

He said while NPC had not conducted population census over the last 16 years, the commission was preparing towards conducting it in 2022, subject to the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have been working towards realising this objectives by delimitating the entire land mass of the country; we started in 2014 we are hopeful that by the end of October, we will complete the demarcation in all the 774 local governments in the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.

Kwarra who was accompanied by commissioners, directors and other management team, added that the commission has also established a national frame for census as well continuously updating the death and birth registration.

He said that while NPC has had successful collaborations with INEC, it would continue in that regard to deepen the country’s democracy and development.

In a related matter, the INEC has announced the end of the first quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information & Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, in a statement on Monday said the fresh registration exercise recorded over 3 million voters.

He said that Monday marked the 12th week of the exercise, saying that the cumulative figures for the CVR exercise from inception show that the number of fresh online pre-registrants stands at 3,165,189 while 1,457,766 Nigerians applied for voter transfer, replacement of PVCs and update of their voter information records.

“Completed registrations now stand at 1,081,947 voters. Youths between the ages of 18 and 34 still constitute the majority with 771,770 (71.33%) completed registration. In terms of occupation, students form the largest category with 439,608 (40.63%). On gender distribution, 555,872 (51.38%) are male and 526,075 (48.62%) are female,” Okoye said.

According to him, the detailed figures for Week 12 as of 7am yesterday, Monday, September 20, 2021 have been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms for public information.

The statement partly reads: “Nigerians would recall that when the Commission resumed the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) on 28th June 2021, we released a detailed Timetable indicating quarterly schedules for the exercise. The First Quarter ends tomorrow 21st September 2021. Since then, the Commission has been giving weekly updates of both the online pre-registration and the physical completion of registration by voters.

“As provided by Section 19 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission is mandated to publish the register of voters for a period of not less than 5 days and not more than 14 days for public scrutiny during which citizens may make claims and objections.

“In compliance with the law, the register of new voters will be displayed in the Local Government offices of the Commission nationwide from 24th – 30th September 2021. The aim is to enable citizens assist the Commission by identifying ineligible registrants on the list ahead of the cleaning up of the register before adding the fresh registrants to the current register and the printing of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for future elections.

“For clarity, ineligible registrants include foreigners and Nigerians below the age of 18. Nigerians should also assist the Commission to identify multiple registrants and deceased persons so that they can be removed from the register.”

The Commission appealed to Nigerians to sustain their cooperation and support assuring that it is determined to conduct free and fair elections of which a credible register of voters is the foundation.

Okoye said the Second Quarter of the exercise will begin on October, 4 2021 and end on 20th December 2021, adding that details will be announced by the Commission before the commencement of the exercise.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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