The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says over 62,698 persons in Anambra are involved in double or multiple registrations in the first phase of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Friday at the commission’s emergency meeting with leaders of political parties in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the double registrations were discovered during the process of cleaning up the registration data.
He recalled that before the end of the first quarter of the CVR nationwide, INEC had devolved the exercise to the Wards or Registration Areas in the state.
The INEC chairman stressed that the conclusion of the registration was followed by the clean-up of the data, to remove the names of ineligible registrants before the printing of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).
“In Anambra State, a total of 138,802 citizens completed the registration, including applications for transfer and request for replacement of lost, damaged or defaced PVCs as required by law.
“However, in the process of cleaning up the registration data, we discovered that many previously registered persons re-registered afresh.
“As a testimony to the effectiveness of our new system for checking double and multiple registrations, the Commission found out that some 62,698 persons who were already registered voters in Anambra State went ahead to register again.
“These double or multiple registrations are invalid by law. We have archived these registrations and will not print new PVCs for them.
“Their old PVCs remain valid and they can use them to vote at the Polling Units where they registered and probably voted in previous elections.
“The same clean-up exercise is going on nationwide. As soon as it is over, the Commission will provide further details to Nigerians on the situation, in other states of the federation and action to be taken on the matter.
“Let me remind all Nigerians that the law prohibits double registration,’’ he added.
Yakubu noted that the deployment of technology, including the online pre-registration, had simplified the process and made voter registration in Nigeria easier.
He also stated that the same technology had made it easier for INEC to detect multiple registrations.
“Consequently, the number of valid registrants in Anambra State at the end of the First Quarter of the CVR exercise on Sept. 5, is 77,475.
“This figure has been added to the existing register of 2,447,996 eligible voters used for the 2019 General Elections.
‘’Accordingly, the number of registered voters in Anambra State now stands at 2,525,471,” Yakubu said.
He said that INEC would provide a detailed breakdown of the figure for public notice in the days ahead.
The INEC chairman stressed that the commission was presently working on the printing of the PVCs.
“We shall use various channels, including e-mails and text messages, to contact the new voters to collect their PVCs before the elections,’’ the chairman assured.
On the preparations for the state elections, Yakubu said that INEC had almost completed the recruitment of ad-hoc staff required for the exercise, adding that in all, about 26,000 election duty staff were required.
Yakubu noted that although there were still some minor shortfalls, INEC believed that it would complete the recruitment on time for their training, scheduled to commence on Oct. 19.
“The training of other categories of staff, such as Electoral Officers (Eos) and Assistant Electoral Officers (AEOs) has been completed, while the training of Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) will commence soon,’’ he added.
Yakubu assured the party leaders that INEC was committed to deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), for electronic fingerprint and facial accreditation of voters.
He said that the pilot deployment of the system in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency by-election in Delta, which was held last month, was very encouraging.
“For example, successful full biometric accreditation was 32.8 per cent in the constituency during the 2019 General Elections.
“However, using the BVAS in the same constituency during the recent by-election, successful accreditation sharply rose to 97.4 per cent,’’ Yakubu added.
He stated that in the future nobody would be allowed to vote in any election without successful biometric accreditation.
Yakubu also assured that INEC had fully recovered from the May attacks on the commission office in Awka.
‘’Also damaged in the attacks were 60 per cent of non-sensitive materials for the election, including 326 generating sets and several Hilux vehicles, which we had assembled at Awka.
“I am glad to report that we have fully recovered from that attack. The buildings have been completely reconstructed and renovated in readiness for the elections.
“All the non-sensitive materials have either been procured afresh or sourced from neighbouring states and our zonal stores,” he stressed.
He stated that INEC was working assiduously with security agencies to ensure that such an attack did not occur again, adding that security remained a major challenge to INEC operations.
“For the political parties, these heinous attacks have truncated campaigns, making voter mobilization and sensitisation impossible.
“Consequently, Anambra State is not in the usual election mood,” Yakubu said.
The INEC chairman noted that it was in the light of the security situation in the state that the commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) last Tuesday.
Yakubu said that already, security around INEC facilities in Anambra had been ramped up.
He said that the commission was confident that the expected heightened deployment of security officials in the coming weeks would further give citizens the confidence to turn up and vote on Election Day.
He appealed to all the political parties and candidates not to heat up the polity in the state through unguarded utterances and actions.
Yakubu noted that such action could compound the security situation and make the activities of the commission, the political parties and the security agencies more difficult, and as well lead to voter apathy.
“This moment calls for statesmanship and maturity, hence the decision to convene this emergency meeting.
“We are confident that the outcome of this engagement will be productive and helpful to the commission and political parties, as INEC continues to prepare for the governorship election.”
On his part, the Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Leonard Nzenwa, said that the meeting in response to the happenings in Anambra was strategic.
He stressed that it was also thoughtful to urgently address the situation to allow the good people of the state to exercise their franchise and elect candidates of their choice.
“The IPAC is resolved that it will support, sponsor, promote and partner with the Commission, as it has always done, to conduct free, fair, credible, inclusive and safe elections and we are committed that this is not negotiable,” he said.
Nzenwa said that the council would do everything possible to ensure that the election holds on Nov. 6 without any hindrance.
“We have directed some parties, which will receive reports and do a deep dive and profile their members in Anambra state and some states in the South-East, with a view to keeping their houses in order,“ Nzenwa added. (NAN)