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NGO kicks against INEC’s setting of deadline for voter registration

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NGO kicks against INEC’s setting of deadline for voter registration

The Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy (LEAD) Network, an NGO, has charged INEC to reconsider completing the issuance of Permanent Voter Cards to seven million applicants who did not complete their registration procedure.

LEAD’s Executive Director, Mr. Chukwuma Okenwa, stated in Enugu on Tuesday that INEC should complete the registration since voter registration was a continuous exercise rather than playing a blame game.

INEC had stated earlier on Tuesday that it did not deny any Nigerian the opportunity to register fully for the Permanent Voter Cards.

It stated that the seven million applicants in contention did not complete the process of registration before the expiration of the deadline.

Okenwa argued that INEC should not set an early deadline for registration because the 2023 general elections were still some five months away.

“It does not just make sense if those citizens are not accommodated,’’ he stated.

Okenwa also queried INEC for setting aside some time to validate the applicant’s records since that could be done after the registration.

“Ahead of 2023, we call on INEC to be as independent as possible and avoid giving the impression that it was out to disenfranchise supporters of a particular candidate,’’ he stated.

Earlier on Tuesday, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, said the seven million applicants in contention did not complete their registration before the expiration of the deadline for the exercise.

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“To set the records straight, INEC introduced the online pre-registration on June 28, 2021.

“By doing so, citizens were given the opportunity to start the registration online and then book appointments at their convenience to complete the physical biometric registration at designated centres,’’ he said.

Okoye explained that this was in addition to the walk-in option at physical registration centres, where registrants could begin and complete their registration without going through the online pre-registration procedure.

“For the online pre-registration, 10,487,972 began the process.

“By the deadline of the exercise, 3,444,378 registrants completed their pre-registration physically at the designated centres in line with laid-down procedure.

“Some 7,043,594 applicants did not complete the registration and INEC made the information public.

“This is what some people are now holding on to, to claim that they were denied the opportunity.

“In reality, they failed to either complete the online enrolment or failed to appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process,’’ he said.

Okoye added that out of the 7,043,594 who did not complete their registration, 4,161,775 attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration.

“The remaining 2,881,819 registrants completed the online pre-registration but did not show up to complete the physical biometric registration at designated centres before the expiration of the deadline.

“Therefore, it is clear that no Nigerian was denied the opportunity to complete the online pre-registration,’’ he stressed.

Okoye appealed to Nigerians to always adhere to timelines as against the endless agitation for the eleventh-hour extension of set deadlines.

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