INEC Appoints Eight-man Panel to Probe Underage Voting

• Says Kano council not under probe

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally set up an eight-man investigative panel to look into complaints of preponderance of underage voters in its registers in Kano and Katsina States.

The issue of underage minors forming a large chunk of the voting population in Kano State especially during the just concluded local council elections in the state has attracted public outcry with the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), blaming the commission for failing to take decisive steps to sanitise the voter register.

However, speaking while receiving a delegation of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) in Abuja, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission had constituted an eigh-member committee headed by a National Commissioner, Abubakar Nahuche, to investigate the allegations in Kano and Katsina States.

He said the terms of references of the committee would be to ascertain if the voter register requested by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission was actually used in the local council elections; to investigate wide spread report that persons below the statutory age of 18 years voted using INEC register.

He also said the committee is expected to engage with stakeholders on issues relating on the use of the voter register to the election and to make any other recommendations that the committee might deem relevant to the assignment.

The INEC boss, however, said the terms of reference do not include the probing of the Kano State local government elections which sparked off the public outcry.
Members of committee are National Commissioner, Mrs. May-Agbamuche Mbu, Mike Igini (Resident Commissioner Akwa .Ibom), Kassim Giedam (REC- Adamawa), Yakubu Duku, Mrs. Rukayat Buni Bello, Paul Omokere and Jude Chikezie Okwuonwu.

Earlier, the INEC boss had regretted the non implementation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between it and the state election commission signed in 2012 which allowed for collaboration in areas such as capacity building, voter education, sensitisation and violence mitigation.
Yakubu blamed the situation on lack of funds and the frequent change in the leadership of state election commissions.

He expressed the belief that by collaborating with SIEC, the processes and outcomes of the local council elections which had become subject of heated discussions would be enhanced.

The Chairman of the forum, Justice I. M. Akomas, while congratulating the commission for the reforms introduced in the electoral process, requested that SIEC be carried along in the application of electronic voting being packaged by INEC.

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