The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied any culpability in the incidences of underage voting in the Kano state local government election which took place in February this year. Following wide spread reports in the media and especially on the social media that several underage persons participated in the election which was based on
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied any culpability in the incidences of underage voting in the Kano state local government election which took place in February this year.
Following wide spread reports in the media and especially on the social media that several underage persons participated in the election which was based on the INEC National Register of Voters, the Electoral Management Body set up an in-house committee on February 21, 2018, to investigate the matter though it noted that not “a single formal complaint on this matter” was received.
INEC said it “was not in any way involved in organizing the Kano State Local Government election beyond the legal requirement that the register of voters compiled by INEC should be used in all Local Government elections nationwide. The conduct of that election was entirely the responsibility of KANSIEC”
It also explained that “the investigative committee was not established to inquire into the general conduct of the Kano State Local Government election or to inquire into the organization or challenges of KANSIEC. Indeed, INEC has no legal remit to do so. Rather, as the Terms of Reference of the Committee show, its role was strictly to inquire into claims linking the register of voters compiled by INEC and the alleged incidents of underaged voting in the election”.
The Committee consequently gave its report as follows:
i. Kano State Independent Electoral Commission requested for and received from INEC the Kano State Register of Voters for the election. The Register was produced for use for the elections. However, the Register was only sighted in a few polling units. In other words, the Register was not used in most of the polling units. In fact, accreditation using the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) largely did not take place.
ii. Given that the Register was substantially not used to accredit voters before voting, it is logical to conclude that if underage voting occurred in the election, it was not due to any presence of underage registrants on the Register of Voters. However, after examining some of the images in circulation, the Committee found that they have been available long before the Kano Local Government Elections. The few images and video clips from Kano show no accreditation of voters or any relationship with the Register of Voters.
iii. There is need and ample room for collaboration between INEC and all stakeholders to continue to update and improve the National Register of Voters to eliminate all ineligible registrants from it, including dead persons, aliens and underage registrants.
iv. INEC should work with the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to ensure continuous improvements in the quality of all elections conducted in Nigeria.
Members of the INEC investigative committee were the National Commissioner Engineer Abubakar Nahuche as Chairman, another National Commissioner Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, two Resident Electoral Commissioners (Barristers Mike Igini and Kassim Geidam) as well as some Directors and staff of the Commission, who are experts in ICT, as members. It has since submitted its Report. The Commission has carefully considered the report and accepted its findings and recommendations.
The report further concluded that since the central interest of the Commission and Nigerians in this remains the National Register of Voters because it is the bedrock of the 2019 general elections, INEC said the present register of voters is the one compiled by the last Commission in 2011. Before 2011, the register of voters was full of errors including strange entries like Mike Tyson, incorrect entries and misplaced records. Although the pre-2011 register was supposed to contain the fingerprints of registrants, the last Commission found that most of the fingerprints were missing or of very poor quality.
Also, there were integration issues and a lot of data were lost because they were collected using incompatible platforms. In addition, there were multiple registrations, as there was minimal attempt to remove multiple entries from the register. These were some of the problems that the last Commission tried to solve by embarking on fresh registration of voters in 2011.