Independent National Electoral Commission has raised the alarm that some politicians have been buying up Permanent Voter Cards or inducing voters financially to collect their Voter Identification Numbers.
INEC chairman, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, raised the alarm on Monday during its quarterly consultative meeting with political parties in Abuja, where he presented 2019 voter register and electoral guidelines to the parties.
He said, “A new method of vote-buying is being devised. We have received credible information that some partisan actors are now going round buying up PVCs from voters or financially inducing them to collect the VINs on their PVCs.
“In some instances, telephone numbers and details of bank accounts of voters have been collected. By collecting the PVCs, their intention may be to deprive the voters of voting since no one can vote without PVC. By collecting their phone numbers and bank details, the intention is to induce voters by electronic transfer of funds to their accounts since it will be difficult to buy votes at polling units.
“By collecting the VINs, they may be acting on the mistaken notion that our system can be hacked into and the card readers somehow preloaded ahead of election and compromised. We want to assure Nigerians that we are aware of the new tricks. It is a futile effort; we will work with security agencies to deal with the violators of our electoral laws, including those who may be trying to compromise our staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by legitimate voters.”
The commission also vowed to keep a close watch on political parties by monitoring their campaign finances.
Yakubu said, “As campaigns are going on nationwide, the commission will keep very close watch on campaign finance. In particular, we shall closely monitor spending by parties and candidates as well as individual and group donations to campaign organisations. We will discharge this regulatory responsibility diligently.
“The commission has designed campaign finance reporting forms to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements by parties. The EC16C for annual finance reporting by parties, the EC16D for income (including contributions and donations) and EC16E on party expenditure are already available on the commission’s website.”
He told political parties there was no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for 2015 General Elections and the 2016 area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, adding that any information to the contrary was utterly baseless and should be disregarded.
INEC chairman advised leaders of political parties to start compiling lists of party agents for submission not later than 14 days to the election, in line with the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 General Elections.
He noted that the deadline for the presidential and National Assembly elections remained February 1, 2019, while governorship, state assembly and FCT Area Council elections is February 16, 2019.
The INEC chairman stressed that the commission would not allow the collection of PVCs by proxy and advised registered voters to collect their cards personally, without which no person would vote.
He dismissed insinuations that Smart Card Readers would not be used for the 2019 General Elections for accreditation of voters.
Yakubu said, “On this note, let me re-emphasise the commission’s policy that Smart Card Readers will be used for 2019 General Elections for accreditation of voters. For clarity, I wish to stress that the function of the Smart Card Reader during accreditation is to confirm, verify and authenticate the voter.
“First, it shall be used to confirm that the PVC is genuine and issued by INEC. Cloned cards or cards that do not match the codes for a particular polling unit in which the voter is registered will be rejected by card readers. Secondly, card readers shall verify that the voter who presents the PVC is the actual owner of the card by ensuring that the personal details on the card reader are consistent with the manual register for the polling unit.
“Thirdly, the card reader shall be used to authenticate the fingerprint of the voter as an additional confirmatory procedure. If the fingerprint is not authenticated by the card reader but the PVC is confirmed as genuine and the voter’s personal details are consistent with the manual register, he/she shall be allowed to vote.”
Lagos, Kano maintain lead in number of voters, as voters hit 84,004,084
Meanwhile, the voters register presented by INEC to political parties in Abuja on Monday has shown that Lagos and Kano states have maintained the lead in the number of registered voters.
In the breakdown, INEC says a total of 84,004,084 Nigerians will vote in the elections.
Out of the over 84 million voters, Lagos State accounts for 6.6 million while Kano has 5.5 million voters.
In 2015, Lagos and Kano states recorded 5.8 million and 5.0 million respectively.
The analysis of the voter register shows South-South has 12,841,279 voters.
Others are South East (10,052,236); South-West (16,292,212); North-West (20,158,100); North-East (11,289,293); and North-Central (13, 366,070).
Female voters constitute 47.14 per cent, which is 39,598,645 voters; while male voters constitute 52.85 per cent, which is 44,405,439 voters.
Youths (18-35) constitute 51.11 per cent, which is 42,938,458 voters; while the middle aged (36-50) constitute 29.97 per cent, which is 25,176,144.
The elderly (51-70) constitute 15.22 per cent, which amounted to 3,100,971 voters; while the old (70+) constitute 3.69 per cent, which is 3,100,971 voters.
Yakubu stressed that INEC had printed and delivered the PVCs to all the states for collection by registered voters, but regretted that millions of cards had yet to be collected.
He stressed that smart card readers would be used to accredit voters for the 2019 General Elections.
INEC abolishes incident form
It was also gathered that the incident form used in previous elections “which is only completed by the presiding officer without the involvement of the voter,” has been abolished.
Yakubu announced this to political parties in Abuja, also on Monday
He said, “Where the biometric authentication fails, the voter will be required to thumbprint a box next to his/her picture on the register and to enter his/her mobile telephone number before proceeding to vote.”