Underage Voting: Disregard ‘No Evidence’ Report, Says INEC


• Says c’ttee yet to finish or submit fact-finding report

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on Nigerians to disregard an earlier report credited to the fact-finding committee chairman that there were no evidence of underage voting in the last Kano council polls.

The Commission also said its investigation into the alleged underage voting in the council poll was still ongoing, and therefore there was no basis to have concluded on its outcome.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had set up the committee following public outcry that greeted videos and photos of underage voting believed to be during the Kano election. The Committee, which commenced last week is to submit its report.

But Nigerians were shocked when the chairman of the committee, Abubakar Nahuce, was quoted to have told journalists in Kano on Friday, that from their interaction with civil society organisations and media, none presented evidence of underage voting.

“From all what we have seen and discussed with you media men, none of you has seen any underage voter in the line or voting,” Nahuce was quoted to have said.

Responding to THISDAY inquiries yesterday, the INEC Director for Voters Education and Publicity (VEP), Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, dismissed the report as not possible.

Osaze-Uzzi called for such conclusions to be disregarded as the Panel is just only three days within their stipulated time frame with investigations still ongoing.

“The Commission has not completed their assignment and has not also submitted their report. So this should be disregarded as they have only completed three days,” he said.
Also speaking, a member of the fact-finding Committee and INEC Commissioner from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini told THISDAY that the Committee Chairman might have been quoted out of context. “We were given two weeks and have had only three days, so we have not even completed our work; let alone to submit to the Commission,” he said.

According to Igini, the Committee had only commenced their work on Wednesday when they met the members of the media and civil society for interaction about their mission and the need for collaboration.

He said at the meeting, the media and CSOs were urged to bring any evidence that might help the Committee carry out their job and that the letters to media houses to that effect were only dispatched on Friday.

“We arrived here on Wednesday and we are just on our third day of the work. The letters to the media houses requesting their help for any available evidence were just dispatched. Even we are yet to meet the political parties who are the direct actors in the polls.
“We have only scheduled to meet them this Monday after which we will examine if the voters’ register were tampered or complied with,” he said.

Also speaking, a source within the Commission and another member of the fact-finding committee who did not want his name mentioned told our reporter that the claim that there was no evidence of under-aged voting was premature and unofficial as the Committee was only in its third day, and was yet to examine several other facts and issues.
The source insisted that the investigation is still ongoing, stressing that the committee chairman may have been quoted out of context as the probe into the issue is inconclusive.

The source explained that because the committee is still sitting, the claim that there no evidence of under-aged voting is not the official stand of the committee.

The source said, “The claim that there was no evidence of under-aged voting is premature and unofficial as the Committee is only in its third day and is yet to examine several other facts and issues.

“Findings, recommendations and interventions from the inquiry can only come after the Committee has concluded its task and submitted same to the Commission, which will issue an official report of the Committee’s work and the Commission’s interventions as may be necessary.”

The source therefore assured that the committee would do a thorough job and come out with a satisfactory report.