The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has responded to claims by the Coalition of the United Political Parties (CUPP) of a possible plot to compromise the forthcoming 2023 elections.
The CUPP had alleged in a Press Conference through the Spokesman of the Coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere that “Significant among the discoveries in the register is the fact that the majority of the foreign names were all born in 1983 despite whether their photographs showed they were old or young.”
Responding to the allegation, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mr. Festus Okoye dismissed the claims that foreigners are on the country’s voter register.
Okoye restated the Commission’s recognition and respect for the right of citizens to hold public agencies accountable, but advised that caution must be the watchword so as not to derail the electoral process by sowing doubts in public minds.
“It is important to reiterate that no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election or will be included until these supplemental activities have been completed in line with the law.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we restate the main components of these activities. First, the Commission is conducting a comprehensive Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) cleanup of the registration data by scrutinising every record.
“Based on the Electoral Act 2022, any record that does not meet all the criteria for inclusion as stipulated in Section 10, including the appearance in person by the registrant at the registration venue with proof of identity, age and nationality and our business rules requirements of adequate number of fingerprints and clear pictures will be invalidated.
“Further, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, after the ABIS and clean up, the Commission shall appoint a period of seven days during which the register will be published for scrutiny by the public for objections and complaints.
“Finally, it is only after the cleanup and claims and objections have been completed that the final register will be published,” Festus Okoye opined.
The INEC National Commissioner assured Nigerians of updates on the progress of the processes as well as INEC’s commitment to the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria.
He appealed to the public to await the Commission’s display of the register for claims and objections to raise any concerns that they may have about the registration.
“We reiterate that our ABIS is robust and will detect practically all the ineligible records for removal.
“The ABIS for the period of registration between 15th January and 31st July is being concluded presently, and the outcome in terms of multiple and ineligible records will be made public. For instance, in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, where the Commission allegedly registered ineligible persons, 3,316 ineligible registrants have so far been invalidated and the process is still ongoing.
“We appeal for your support while we painstakingly deal with the cleanup of the register and other processes that will guarantee that the general election in 2023 is free, fair, credible and inclusive,” INEC requested.