- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)had set up a committee to probe the Kano under age voters saga
- Findings from the committee's report have been made public through sources close to the committee
- It has been established that INEC is not culpable in the controversy as its register was not used for the local government election
Excerpts from the report of the probe committtee set up by INEC to probe the under age voters saga in Kano state have been made public by reliable sources.
The committee's report stated that the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) didn't use the national voters register made available to it by INEC to accredit voters during the local government election in the state held in February.
The report, sources within the commission say, acknowledged the existence of a small number of underage voters in the register who were registered during the 2011 and 2015 registration exercises, but disclosed that there were no cases of under age voting as widely reported during the Kano state local government election.
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According to the report which is yet to be made public soon, a formal request and approval for the release of the register was done accordingly and KANSIEC printed the soft copy issued by INEC.
Although the Kano election was conducted by KANSIEC, which is an independent constitutional body, many political commentators immediately linked the election to INEC, arguing that since the voters register is compiled by the INEC, it should be held responsible for the prevalence of ineligible persons on the national register of voters
But the committee's report stated that accreditation was observed in the polling unit where the governor voted and a few others within the same voting centre for photo-op purposes but that remained the only place such was done as the elections was a free for all affair with voters not going through any process of accreditation but being allowed to vote.
The report affirmed that the KANSIEC threw process overboard and allowed for any one that wanted to vote to participate without recourse to INEC’s register. This perhaps was done to ensure massive return of votes aimed at giving impression of mass support for the ruling party in the state.
The committee called for actions to be taking to ensure that SIECs enjoy real independence and as well as the introduction of measures targeted at cleaning up the voters register in the remaining 35 states of the federation and the FCT where cases of ineligible voters have been confirmed.
INEC had set up the committee to investigate the allegation of over age voters following the outcry from members of the public. The committee were particularly asked to find out the link, if any, between underage voting in the local election election and the national register of voters.
On the photos of underage voters which went viral on social media immediately after the election, the report concluded that after thoroughly analysing the pictures and videos clips , it was discovered that majority of them were old pictures sourced from the internet that predated the February 10 local government elections in Kano state.
“In fact, with only one exception, they were old pictures that have been in circulation in the social media between 2017 and 2017. However, many of the videos were from the LG elections in which unidentified persons were seen thumb-printing ballot papers in a free-for-all manner but in none of the clips was there accreditation of voters using the voters register,” a source within the commission said.
The report gave graphic analysis and pictorial evidence of earlier media reports where some of the pictures have been reported as far back as the 2015 general elections
As part of its recommendations, the report stated that there are indeed genuine concerns about the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register. It however stated that this is a national problem with the register of states like Ekiti, Edo, Anambra and all other states showing evidence of the presence of a number of underage voters.
The committee however recommended that political parties as well as Nigerians, to get involved in the process of cleaning up the voters register since all registrants belong to a community and are known by the party.
The report also noted the collusion between parties and communities which usually leads to the registration of underage voters.
Sources within the commission said with the report out now, the INEC chairman is determined to clean up the register and will soon make very major announcements in that regards.
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Meanwhile, an election observer group, the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) has faulted the failure of political parties in the country to participate in the process of cleaning up of voters register since 2011.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, ISDMG executive director, Dr Chima Amadi, said following an FOI inquiry to tNEC, it discovered that even though the commission has been complying with the provision of the Electoral Act and making voters register available to political parties, none of the political parties or individuals have bothered to verify it.
According to him, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in Section 10 (3) provided that the commission shall, within 60 days after each year, make available to every political party the names and addresses of each person registered during the year.
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