By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
With exactly 350 days ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has embarked on clean-up of the voter register and has so far delisted 299 aliens.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja during first quarterly consultative meeting with security agencies for 2018 under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
Yakubu said that clean-up would focus against underage voters, aliens, and persons registered in abstentia amongst others.
He said: “Before we finalise the voter register for the 2019 general elections, the Commission will undertake a thorough Clean-up of the existing register.
“Under Section 12 (1) of the Electoral Act, those who are below the statutory age of 18 years, aliens, persons registered in absentia, those barred by statue or regulations from registering as voters and persons who do not ordinarily reside, work or originate from the area covered by the registration are ineligible. We will thoroughly scrutinise all prospective registrants in the ongoing exercise in order to ensure that only eligible registrants are registered.”
“I am happy to report that the Commission has been able to remove from the voter register the names of 299 aliens who registered on the false pretence that they were Nigerians. This was done on the basis of Information received from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).”
To this end, the INEC Chairman said the Commission had agreed with NIS to deploy their personnel to registration centres nationwide to ensure that only Nigerians register to vote in the election.
Yakubu stressed that “registering to vote and actual voting in an election are the exclusive rights of Nigerian citizens to which aliens are excluded by law.”
On the issues of security during the election, he said that INEC would work together with security agencies in line with rules of engagement to guarantee citizen’s rights to vote.
He said: “Today’s meeting is coming exactly 350 days to the commencement of the 2019 General Elections, 133 days to Ekiti State Governorship Election holding on July 14, 2018 and 203 days to the Osun State Governorship Election holding on September 22, 2018.
“We are already in the active period of preparations for the elections. I wish to reassure the electorate that INEC and the security agencies will continue to work in line with the rules of engagement that guarantee full citizens during electioneering campaigns and actual voting on election day in a professional, non-partisan manner consistent with the provisions of law.”
Against this backdrop, the umpire said the Commission will make available to the public copies of the rules of engagement for security agencies as part of their voter education and sensitisation.
Also speaking, CP Peace Ibekwe who is the co-chair of the meeting and representative of the National Security Adviser (NSA), assured to work closely with INEC to ensure a secured, free, fair and credible elections.
Ibekwe also used the opportunity to appeal to the representatives of all security and intelligence agencies “that all laws towards the elections are adhered to strictly”.