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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it had extended the Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR) taking place in 10 states by two days. This extension, according to the commission, was because of the huge turnout of prospective registrants, and aimed at giving opportunity to all eligible persons.
This was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Kayode Idowo, saying, “The exercise, which was originally scheduled to end on Sunday, June 1, will now run till Tuesday, June 3, in the following states: Taraba, Gombe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Benue, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Akwa-Ibom and Bayelsa.”
According to the statement, INEC called on eligible persons in the states involved in the exercise that are yet to register as voters to use the opportunity of the extension to do so.
The INEC statement further said, “The commission hereby reiterates, however, that the CVR is for only the following categories of people: Persons who turned 18 years after the last registration persons who were 18 years at the time but did not present themselves for registration and persons whose data were not adequately captured previously and for whom PVCs were not produced in the last distribution exercise.
“For avoidance of doubt, the exercise is not for everyone, including people wishing to transfer their registration data from where they previously registered.
“It will amount to double/multiple registration, which is an offence punishable under Nigerian law, for anyone who was duly registered previously to present himself/herself for registration during the CVR.”
Meanwhile in Enugu State, was because of the wide complaints that trailed the exercise as residents who trooped out expressed dismay over the poor functioning of INEC machines.
In some of the registration centres, the people who came out in their large numbers were seen waiting patiently as INEC officials and some council workers battled to fix the machines.
Most of the machines had battery, cord or thumb-printing problems, making the ad hoc INEC staff manning them to frequently shot down which made the process to be slow.
However, the Enugu East senatorial aspirant and former Minister of Information, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr, has called for the extension of the exercise in the state.
Nweke also urged INEC to evolve a process of continuous voters registration that could enable prospective voters register with INEC without necessarily waiting for a particular period close to election to register as voters.
He made the call yesterday shortly after under going fresh registration as a voter at Nkwo Ishi-Ozalla in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state.
Nweke also encouraged his constituents that are yet to collect their permanent voters’ cards to go to INEC offices in their local government headquarters to collect them so that they would not be disenfranchised during the 2015 general election.
The former minister said it was very disturbing for the entire INEC registration documentation to be erased in 621 polling units of Enugu state, adding that it was an embarrassing incident after 15 years of return to democracy in Nigeria.
He said: “INEC as a public institution needs to redouble its effort to be accountable and to be more efficient in the management of its responsibilities.
“But having said that, I also believe that without voters there is no democracy and democracy is about choice and so I which to encourage our people to register to vote because its the only way you can effect a change or maintain a status quo if that is what you want.
“Let me also call on INEC to consider very seriously extending the registration period. I don’t see for instance why we have to wait upon years after one process of registration and then you allocate 3 or 5 days in a a few months to an election and ask everybody to go and register within those times.
“Voters registration should be a continuous process for people who turn voting age at any point in time. It shouldn’t be special events but INEC should consider very seriously extending the registration process in other for people to get registered. I think we have sufficient time to do that.”