The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says extending the period for continuous voter registration (CVR) may result in a significant percentage of invalid registrants.
Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner for information and voter education, spoke on Monday in an interview with Channels Television, while reacting to a recent court verdict on the CVR exercise.
A federal high court in Abuja on Monday, granted an order of interim injunction stopping INEC from ending voter registration on June 30.
The commission had fixed June 30 as the deadline to suspend the CVR exercise across the country ahead of the 2023 general election.
Owing to the deadline, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 185 Nigerians filed a lawsuit against INEC.
Speaking on the court verdict, Okoye said the date fixed for the suspension of the exercise is to give the commission enough time to clean up the voter register for the 2023 polls.
“We recognise it as a constitutional and legal right of people to register. We also recognise the fact that it will add value to our electoral process if we get as many Nigerians as possible to register,” he said.
“But we cannot do CVR ad infinitum and be registering people who have registered before. I think Nigerians should exercise patience and be calm.
“At the end of the day, the commission will do all it takes to improve the registration process.”
Speaking further, Okoye said ending the CVR exercise closer to the general election has heavy implications on the preparations of the commission for the elections.
“The implication is that we will not be in a position to display the voter register for claims and objections. The second implication is that we will not have an opportunity to clean up the voter register — to remove double registrants,” he said.
“When we cleaned up the voter register for those who registered between 28th June, 2021 and 14th June, 2022, we found out 46 percent of those who registered were invalid registrants and we have to remove them.
“The implication is that if we go on as you have presumed (90 days before the general election), we may go into the 2023 general election with 50 percent of invalid registrants on the voter register.
“This registration started in June 2021. During this particular time, sometimes, a registration officer registers one individual a day. It is only in the last two weeks that voter registration is about to end that we have this surge.
“The commission is a constitutional body and we are under a constitutional obligation to give effect to judgments and orders of properly constituted courts of law and we are going to give effect to the order made by the federal high court.”
Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022 stipulates that “the registration of voters, updating and revision of register of voters shall stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by the Act”.
Meanwhile, the suit has been adjourned till June 29 for the hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.By Rabiu Tajudeen