By Godfrey AKON
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has debunked claims that it denied 7,043,594 Nigerians the opportunity to complete their registration process during the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, exercise which ended on July 31, 2022.
While acknowledging that 7,043,594 applicants commenced the online pre-registration but did not complete the registration process, the commission said no Nigerian was deliberately denied the opportunity to complete his online pre-registration.
INEC in a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Monday, gave a breakdown of the 7,043,594 incomplete registrations, stating that 4,161,775 citizens attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration instead.
The commission further noted that 2,881,819 registrants completed the online pre-registration but did not show up to complete the physical Biometric Capture at designated centres before the deadline.
The clarification follows recent media reports that some seven million Nigerians who applied for online pre-registration as voters during the last nationwide Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, were denied the opportunity to complete their registration and consequently the collection of their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs.
While describing the claim as misleading, INEC said “To set the record straight, Nigerians may recall that on 28th June 2021, the Commission introduced the online pre-registration of voters. By doing so, citizens were given the opportunity to commence the registration online and then book for an appointment at their convenience to complete the physical Biometric Capture at designated centres.
“It was a novel idea leveraging on technology to ease the registration process. This was in addition to the walk-in option at physical centres, where Nigerians can commence and complete their registration simultaneously without going through the online pre-registration procedure.
“In the interest of transparency, the Commission provided weekly statistical updates on the exercise. For the online pre-registration, a total 10,487,972 commenced the process. However, by the deadline of the exercise, 3,444,378 Nigerians completed their pre-registration physically at the designated centres in line with the Commission’s policy.
“Some 7,043,594 applicants did not complete the registration. Again, the Commission made the information public. This is what some people are now using to say that they were denied the opportunity when in reality they failed to either complete the online enrolment or appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process.