BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The Independent National Electoral Commission has summoned an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security for Friday following the twin attack on the Commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun States.
The Commission lamented that with just 106 days to the 2023 General Election when the Commission has commenced the movement of materials to their offices nationwide, these simultaneous attacks are very worrisome indeed.
According to the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, “the rising incidents of attacks on supporters of various political parties since the commencement of campaign barely two months ago and the use of hate and incendiary language by some politicians are extremely disturbing.
“Accordingly, the Commission has convened an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) tomorrow Friday 11th November 2023 to discuss the disturbing trend.”
Okoye disclosed that the Commission received two disturbing reports of attacks on their Local Government offices in Ogun and Osun States Thursday morning.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ogun State, Dr. Niyi Ijalaiye, reported that our office in Abeokuta South Local Government Area was attacked and set ablaze.
“The incident occurred around 1.15am when some unidentified persons overpowered the security personnel on duty and set the entire building ablaze.
“The main building and all the Commission’s movable assets in the office were destroyed. They include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, 8 electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
“Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State, Dr. Mutiu Agboke, reported that our office in Ede South Local Government Area was attacked and set ablaze.
“The incident occurred in the early hours of this morning when some unidentified persons attacked the building and set a portion of it ablaze.
“Fortunately, the damage to our Ede South Local Government was limited to a section of the building and only some furniture items were destroyed.
“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security and safety agencies has been drawn to the incidents and they have commenced investigation”.
In another development, the Commission at its weekly meeting held Thursday deliberated on the forthcoming display of the entire national register of voters for claims and objections by citizens as required by law and approved the methodology for the exercise.
As earlier announced by the Commission, the entire preliminary register containing 93,522,272 registrants will be published. The exercise will last for 2 weeks, from 12th -25th November 2022.
The physical copies of the register will be displayed in all the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas on polling unit basis nationwide. For the first time, the soft copy of the entire register will also be published on the Commission’s website (visit www.inecnigeria.org/display_register and follow the instructions).
The register will give the name, picture, date of birth and Voter Identification Number (VIN) of each registered voter. However, for data protection and security reasons, critical information such as biometric details, residential addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of voters will not be made public on both the physical and soft copies.
During the display, any person may make a claim that the name of a registered voter has been omitted, make corrections on his/her personal details on the register, raise an objection against the inclusion of any person not qualified to vote or the name of a dead person on the register
As the exercise commences on Saturday 12th November 2022, we appeal to Nigerians to seize the opportunity to scrutinize the register and draw the Commission’s attention to any corrections in their personal particulars and any malicious registrations, multiple registrants, non-Nigerians or any other person not qualified to be on the register.
Detailed clarification on the processes and procedures for the exercise, including relevant forms, can be obtained from the Commission’s officials at the points of display at Registration Areas (Wards) and Local Government Areas. The information has also been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.
By the provisions of the law, cleaning up the voters’ register is a collective national responsibility. So far, the Commission has weeded out ineligible registrants using our Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). By working together with citizens, we can clean the register further as it is the critical foundation for credible elections.