INEC says 45 % of new voter registrations invalid [Updated]

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday disclosed that about 45 % of new registrations on its voters register are invalid.

It said it discovered this in the course of cleaning up the register.

It said the percentage of invalid registration rose to 60% in some states.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday at a news conference on the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR).

“As against the AFIS used in previous exercises, the Commission introduced the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) which is a more comprehensive and robust system, involving not just fingerprint identification but also facial biometric recognition.

“Sadly, it seems that many registrants, either out of ignorance that they do not need to re-register if they had done so before, or a belief that our systems will not detect this infraction, have gone out to register again. This is despite repeated warnings by the Commission against this illegal action.

“In addition, there are also registrants whose data were incomplete and did not meet our Business Rules for inclusion in the register. Both categories i.e. the failure of ABIS and incomplete data constitute invalid registrations.

“Presently, nearly 45% of completed registrations nationwide are invalid, rising to as high as 60% or more in some States.

“This infraction happened in all states of the Federation. No State is immune from it. These invalid registrations will not be included in the Register of Voters,” he stated.

He explained that during the period from 28th June to 20th December 2021, millions of Nigerians commenced their registration online and thereafter scheduled appointments to complete the process physically.

“Millions more visited our State and Local Government offices to register in person without the option of going through the online procedure. For the pre-registration option, 1,014,382 registrants completed the process while 1,509,076 Nigerians registered in person at our designated registration centres nationwide.

“Furthermore, 671,106 Nigerians submitted requests to update their records, transfer their registration from where they are currently registered to other locations or the replacement of their lost or damaged PVCs.

“While the number of new registrants is very impressive and demonstrates the eagerness of Nigerians to vote in the forthcoming elections, the Commission has a duty to clean up the data to ensure that only eligible Nigerians are registered,” he said.

He said the foundation for any credible election rested on the credibility of the register of voters, saying that the introduction of the biometric registration of voters in 2011 has helped to sanitise the register.

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“You may recall that initially, 73,528,040 Nigerians were registered in 2011. Using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the Commission was able to remove 4,239,923 invalid registrations. Consequently, the Register of Voters for the 2015 General Election stood at 69,288,117 voters.

“Subsequently, some 432,173 new voters were added to the Register during the CVR exercises ahead of the off-cycle Governorship elections in five States (Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo, Ondo and Anambra) from late 2015 to early 2017, bringing the total number of registered voters in Nigeria to 69,720,350. You may also recall that preparatory to the 2019 General Election, the Commission, for the first time, embarked on a nationwide CVR exercise on a continuous basis as provided by law.

“From 27th April 2017 to 31st August 2018, 15,317,872 new voters were registered. Out of this figure, 1,034,141 ineligible registrants were detected and removed from the register to arrive at the figure of 84,004,084 voters for that election,” he added.

According to him, in its commitment to transparency, the distribution of the registration figures, including the percentages of valid and invalid registrations on a State-by-State basis, would be made available, as the same information would be uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms immediately.

Yakubu said this development was worrisome because of the time and resources expended in handling these cases, adding that even more disturbing were the strong indications that some of its staff might be complicit in facilitating these infractions, notwithstanding stern warnings.

“Consequently, the Commission is reviewing reports on such staff and has commenced a detailed investigation which may include the prosecution of those found culpable. Specific registrants associated with these infractions by our staff may also face prosecution in line with Sections 22 and 23 of the Electoral Act 2022,” he said.

He urged political parties, the media, civil society organisations and the general public to assist the Commission in educating Nigerians about the problem of invalid registration.

Yakubu said with the commission’s improved systems using the ABIS, INEC shall continue to clean up the register to eliminate invalid registration and ensure that only those who should be in the Register of Voters were included.

He disclosed that after completing the data clean up, the Commission has printed 1,390,519 PVCs for genuine new registrants.

In addition, Yakubu said  464,340 PVCs for verified applicants for transfer or replacement of cards had also been printed.

“Consequently, a total of 1,854,859 PVCs are now ready. They will be delivered to our State offices across the country over the Easter holiday. They will be available for collection by the actual owners in person immediately after the holiday. No PVC will be collected by proxy.

“I must reiterate that the available cards only cover those who registered in the First and Second Quarters of the exercise.

“The Commission wishes to assure those who registered between January and March 2022 as well as those who are doing so right now that their PVCs will be ready for collection long before the 2023 General Election,” he said.

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