Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) extend collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in Lagos to February 12, 2023.
The collection of PVCs came to an end on February 5, after the electoral body had twice extended the deadline.
However, in a joint statement issued yesterday by CivicHive, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Community Life Project (CLP) and Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC), they insisted that voters should not be penalised for INEC’s administrative lapses.
The stated: “A large number of eligible voters whose names are in the Voters’ Register turned up at INEC’s offices to collect their PVCs with their registration slips, only to be sent away empty handed by INEC officials on the grounds that their PVCs were “Not Found” or they were “Omitted”.
“Some of those affected made multiple unsuccessful trips on different dates to INEC’s offices. INEC assured some of these voters that their cases would be escalated and they would be contacted to pick up their PVCs.”
“The reality is that registered voters showed up to collect their PVCs and INEC failed to honour its mandate.
“We demand that INEC extend PVC Collection in Lagos to Sunday, February 12, 2023 as voters should not be penalised for INEC’s administrative lapses.”
The coalition explained that on Monday, February 6, Enough is Enough (EiE) sent 845 text messages to Lagosians who had submitted complaints on its RSVP Portal and as of the morning of Wednesday, February 8, in barely 48 hours, 163 people had responded that they are in INEC’s voters’ register, but they were denied their PVCs.
It stressed that there was precedent for this extension as in 2014, while PVC collection was stopped across the country, it was extended in Lagos because INEC Lagos took responsibility for its shortcomings.
It recalled that in the words of Mr. Adekunle Ogunmola, the Lagos Resident Electoral Commission (REC) at the time, “This delay was not caused by the people, it was caused by INEC.”
The coalition maintained that the commission was depriving Lagosians of their right to participate in the electoral process due to these observed lapses, including late arrival of PVCs; absence of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for PVC collection.
It said while collection by proxy was supposed to be unlawful, “we have several examples of this happening and this could be a contributory factor to the cards of other citizens not being found.”