CSOs bemoan disenfranchisement and ask for a PVC collecting extension.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has been under fire from a coalition of civil society organizations for what they believe to be the disenfranchisement of voters, particularly students, in the next general elections.
This was contained in a statement released on Friday by the 10 CSOs including Enough is enough, Yiaga Africa, Dataphyte, Reclaim Naija, and others.
The CSOs requested a better timeline to allow students to participate in the election as well as an extension of the deadline for collecting Permanent Voter Cards in the statement.
“According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards will conclude on Sunday, January 29th at 5 pm,” it stated.
But according to accounts from voters in various collecting centers across the nation, some lawfully registered voters were told by INEC officials that their PVCs were not available; while others were requested to come back on a later day beyond the deadline or after the election to pick up their PVCs.
“We also notice the worry of the students who registered at home while tertiary institutions were shut down for nearly eight months,” the statement that decried the predicament of students said.
40% of the 9,518,188 newly registered voters are students, according to INEC. INEC must make sure they may pick up their cards in the least expensive method feasible if they registered at home and are currently attending school.
The CSOs subsequently urged INEC to “let Nigerians know if it is still printing cards and when all the cards for registered voters will be ready for pickup;
Extend PVC collection to guarantee that all individuals whose cards were not located are reprinted and that there is a clear way for them to pick up the cards;
“Assist the Nigerian Universities Commission in making arrangements such that there are no courses or exams the week before elections so that students can cast their ballots at home;
“When the PVCs are ready, communicate with newly registered voters, especially students; and
“Create a dedicated desk where media outlets, citizens, and organizations representing civil society can escalate complaints for prompt resolution.”
The statement concluded, “The engine to drive this process is clear and proactive information sharing from INEC. There are high expectations for this election and INEC can not be seen to be deliberately or inadvertently disenfranchising certain groups of people.”