By David Lawani
The National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the power to extend the Continuous Voters Registration exercise beyond the stipulated time provided for in the Electoral Act.
Okoye said this over the weekend when he appeared on the TVC programme tagged” Political Standpoint.”
He said the registration exercise would commence again after the 2023 general elections.
Okoye also said all registrants who did double and multiple registrations would be disqualified eventually.
He said the Commission has mechanisms that will filter the process to ensure that those who registered genuinely were allowed to collect their PVCs, while those who run afoul of the registration process would be prevented due to the Commission’s ability to detect and remove the invalid registrants.
He said, “The commission has officially suspended the continuous voter registration exercise. And it will open again after the 2023 general election. We make sure that this CVR comes to an end to enable us to carry out some other activities provided for in the electoral legal framework Now, I think some people have been reading section 9 sub-section 6 of the electoral act in a very liberal manner.
“Section 9 sub-section 6 of the act, said the registration of voters and the updating of the voters register and the revision shall stop not later than 90 days before the election.
“If, you want to look at section 19 sub-section 1 of the electoral act 2022. It also provides that the commission shall within seven days display the voter’s register for claims and objections not later than 90 days to the election.
“So, if you read section 9 sub-section 6 literarily, the implication is that we cannot carry out the display of the voter’s register for claims and objections. Now, we have already released the timetable. And, we did the voters registration exercise to last for one year.
“We open the online registration portal for pre-registrants on the 28 days of June 2021. We also started earlier than extended it to July ending of 2022. This commission needs time to clean up the voter’s register and remove double and multiple registrants.
“This is because when we publish the list of the registrants in the first and second quarters, we found out that 44.6 per cent of all those who register were multiple or double registrants. We also need time to display the voter’s register for claims and objections.
“And this has to be displayed in the 774 local government councils and the 8809 registration areas of Nigeria. Thereafter, we have to print the permanent voter’s cards of all the registrants. And, then take them back to the local governments, registration areas for people to collect them.
“All these activities need time to be accomplished. So, we cannot continue with the CVR because it has to come to an end to enable us to concentrate on other activities provided for in the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.”
•Parties responsible for uploading names of candidates on INEC platform
Okoye added that it is the duty of political parties to upload the names of successful candidates on the INEC platform.
He said, “Under section 29 sub-section 1, of the Electoral Act, it is the political party that conducted the party primary that has the responsibility to upload the list and personal particulars of candidates that won party primaries, and who emerged from a valid process.
“Now, under our procedure, the moment a political party is done with its party primary, we give an access code to the national chairman of the political party. One access code, only one.
“It is that access code they use in uploading the names and personal particulars of their nominated candidates into our INEC candidate nomination portal. We don’t give the access code to any other individual except the national chairman of the political party.
“If a political party conducted a primary, and the commission monitors the primary, at the end of the day, a report is submitted to the commission and the political party didn’t upload, the name of the candidate that emerged from the valid party primary, definitely the commission is under any constitutional or legal obligation to publish the name of that candidate. And, that is exactly what we have done especially in areas in contention.
“And, we are going to continue to apply the provisions of the Electoral Act, and provisions of the constitution and also follow our own rules and procedures in arriving at certain conclusions. We are not under any pressure from anybody. We are looking at the constitution. We are looking at the electoral act.
“We are looking at our regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections. And, also we are looking at our procedures. We are not listening to any individual. We are not listening to any political party or any pressure group. We are only listening to what the constitution has told us to do and the Nigerian people”, he stated.