2023: SERAP Urges INEC to Allow Seven Million Nigerians Complete Voter Registration
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to immediately give seven million Nigerians who have carried out their voter registration online the time and opportunity to complete the process so that they can obtain their permanent voter cards (PVCs) and exercise their right to vote.
INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre. This it stated represented just 32.8 per cent of completed online registration.
In the letter dated August 13, 2022, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the right to vote was not merely the right to cast a ballot, but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised.
SERAP said closing the “gates on eligible Nigerians and denying them the time and opportunity to complete their registration cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.”
According to the organization, denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters.
SERAP vowed to consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with the request in the public interest, if the recommended measures were not taken within seven days of the receipt or publication of the letter.
The letter, read in part, “The failure of the applicants to complete their registration may be due to factors entirely outside of their control, especially given the well-documented challenges faced by many Nigerians at registration centres across the country.
“Unless they are given a reasonable time and opportunity to complete the registration process, and to obtain their voter cards, these eligible Nigerians will not be able to vote in the 2023 general elections.
“The alleged failure of the applicants to complete their registration at INEC designated centres are not sufficiently weighty to justify their exclusion from the 2023 general elections. Any proffered justifications of saving time and cost are therefore wholly insufficient. Administrative convenience is simply not a compelling justification in light of the fundamental nature of the right to vote.”