Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that neither its election register nor permanent voter cards (PVC) was used for the Kano State Local Government elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who addressed journalists on Friday on the findings of the investigative panel that probed allegations of preponderance of underage voters in Kano and other adjourning states,
said there is nothing to suggest that the commission’s election register contained underage voters’ names.
He said the terms of reference of the probe panel was to ascertain claims that the voters’ register compiled by INEC contained underage voters’ names and alleged incidents of underage voting in the election.
Yakubu said the committee submitted that though Kano State requested and received the voter’s register, it was only used in few polling units.
The INEC panel said: “The register was only sighted in a few polling units. In fact, accreditation using the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) largely did not take place.”
Giving more details about the findings, Yakubu said that since the voters’ register was substantially not used to accredit voters for the election, it was logical to conclude that whatever transpired at the polls would not impugn on the integrity of INEC’ s register.
He further said that the committee recommended that henceforth, INEC and states Independent Electoral Commission (SIECs) should collaborate more on issues relating to the conduct of elections.
When asked whether it would not be proper to conduct a more elaborate investigation on the issue of underage voters, Yakubu said INEC will take advantage of the Kano episode to carry out a nationwide scrutiny of the national election register.
He assured Nigerians that there will be room for collaboration between INEC and all stakeholders to update and improve the register to eliminate all ineligible registrants from it.
The INEC boss also said that the panel recommended that the commission should work with SIECs to improve the quality of all elections conducted in the country.
Earlier, the INEC chairman had exonerated the management of the electoral body from any charge of inaction on the issue of underage voting, stating that not a single complaint has been received from political parties or stakeholders on the matter.
He said instead, some persons, including a political party had taken to the media impugning on the image and integrity of the commission.
He went on to say that the present voters’ register was the one complied last on 2011 but was updated in 2014.
He said that before the 2011 general election, the register was full of errors, adding that the commission found that most of the fingerprints were missing.
In addition, he said there were multiple entries in the register.
According to the INEC boss, the register has been subjected to continuous clean-up and updating.
Yakubu emphatically said that the country’s election register as it is today is a dependable document capable of delivering credible elections.
On what the commission plans to do to engender more trust and confidence on the election register, Yakubu said that INEC will carry out a nationwide cleaning up exercise which will involve all stakeholders.
He also said that the commission will put out samples of the voter register and make same available to political parties for all to make observations and help fish out ineligible voters.
On the botched recall of the senator representing Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye, Yakubu said contrary to amounts being speculated to have been spent on the exercise, the actual amount spent was a little over N100 million.
He said the verification exercise took place in all the polling units within the senatorial district.