Kano Underaged Voting: INEC Gives ‘not Culpable’ Verdict

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that neither its election register nor permanent voter’s card was used for the Kano State local government election.

 The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who addressed journalists on Friday on the findings of the investigative panel that probed allegations of preponderance of under aged voters in Kano State and other adjourning states said there was nothing to suggest that the commission’s election register contained under aged voters.

 He said the terms of reference of the probe panel were to ascertain claims that the register of voters compiled by INEC and the alleged incidents of under aged voting in the election.

 Yakubu said the committee submitted that though Kano state requested and received the voters 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 Voters Card (PVC) largely did not take place”.

 Giving more details about the finding, Yakubu said that since the election register was substantially not used to accredit voters for the election, it was logical to conclude that whatever transpired at the polls would not impugne on the integrity of INEC’ s register.

 Yakubu further said that the committee recommended that going forward, the INEC and state Independent Electoral Commission should collaborate more on issues relating conduct of elections.

 When asked whether it would not be proper to conduct a more elaborate investigation on the issue of under aged voters, Yakubu said INEC would take advantage of the Kano episode to carry out nationwide scrutiny of the national election register.

 He assured that there would 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 the state Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) 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 under aged voting, stating that not a single complaint had 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 further stated 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 last commission found that most of the fingerprints were missing. In addition, he said there were multiple entries from the register.

 According to the INEC boss, the register had been subjected to continuous clean-up and updating.

 Yakubu emphatically said that the country’s election register as it was today is a dependable document which can be relied upon to deliver credible election.

 On what the commission planned to do to engender more trust and confidence on the election register, Yakubu said that INEC would 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.