The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reacted to the allegations by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP).
CUPP in a press conference on Wednesday, alleged that the just concluded Continuous Voters Registration was marred by irregularities, adding that the ruling All Progressives Congress padded the register with fake names.
The spokesman of the Coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere Imo, further alleged that the Imo Governor added fictitious names and increased his ward to 46,000 voters.
But INEC in a statement by Festus Okoye Esq, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the process of cleaning the Voter registration is ongoing assuring that the commission will deliver a free, fair, credible and inclusive election.
The statement reads:
The attention of the Commission has been drawn to a report of a press conference addressed by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on the Register of Voters for the 2023 general elections. The Commission recognizes and respects the right of citizens, either as individuals and groups, to demand explanation from public agencies, including INEC, and to hold them accountable.
However, it is always important that caution is exercised so that such interventions do not unwittingly sow doubts in the public mind, thereby diminishing public confidence and trust in the electoral process.
Nigerians would recall that on 3Ist July 2022, the Commission suspended the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to commence supplemental activities that will culminate in the integration of new registrants into the final Register of Voters for the 2023 General Election.
lt is important to reiterate that no new registrant has yet been added to the Register of voters for the 2023 general Election or wil 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 wil be published.
The Commission will continue to provide the public with updates on the progress of these processes, as we did through our Press Release of 12 September 2022. 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 lmo State, where the Commission allegedly registered ineligible persons, 3316 ineligible registrants have so far been invalidated and the process is still ongoing.
We appeal 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.
Nigerians should be reassured of the Commission’s commitment to the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria. We appeal for your support while we painstakingly deal with the clean up of the register and other process that will guarantee that the general election in 2023 is free, fair, credible and inclusive.