By EMMANUEL OLONIRUHA
ABUJA- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will thoroughly investigate cases of infraction in the ongoing display of register of voters across the country.
INEC gave the assurance in a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, on Thursday in Abuja.
Okoye also said that culpable officials would be disciplined.
“The display of all registrants shows INEC’s commitment to transparency.
He recalled that on Nov. 12, the commission published a preliminary national register of voters in its 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Area offices nationwide.
He said that similarly, the entire register had been published on the Commission’s website for the first time in the nation’s electoral history.
He said that the purpose of the display is to enable Nigerians to scrutinise the preliminary register and make claims about misspellings of names, personal details or missing names on the register so that the errors could be corrected.
“In addition, citizens can raise objections about the presence of ineligible persons, for example, those below the age of 18 years, dead persons, foreigners, or those making false claims so that they can be deleted from the register in line with the commission’s established rules.”
Okoye said that as earlier announced, the commission will display physical copies of the register for claims and objections at two levels.
“First, at the Registration Area level from Nov. 12 to Nov. 18, which comes to an end tomorrow, and thereafter, at the Local Government level from Nov. 19 to Nov. 25.
He said that the display would be followed by hearing of claims and objections by citizens for disposal action.
“In addition to the physical display at the Registration Areas and Local Governments, the register is also displayed on the Commission’s website so that citizens can simultaneously make both claims and objections online throughout the duration of the exercise.
“This is the first time that the Commission would be doing so and further underscores our commitment to applying technology to improve the electoral process.
He said that so far, INEC has been harvesting the online claims and objections adding that the same would be done for the manual process.
“At the end of the exercise, all claims and objections made will be addressed. In this way, citizens are contrbuting to the strengthening of our electoral process.
“It Is therefore in the foregoing context that recent media reports on the presence of ineligible registrants in the register should be seen.
“The full display of all registrants speaks to the Commission’s commitment to transparency.
“The fact that these likely ineligible registrants are being identified means that the objectives of the display for claims and objections are being met.”
Okoye urged the members of the public to follow the procedures and report these objections for the necessary action of the Commission.
“In addition, the Commission cannot rule out infractions by its registration officials in allowing these ineligible persons into the register in the first place.
“Therefore, each confirmed case of infraction will be thoroughly investigated and culpable officials will be disciplined.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that the Commission is committed to transparency and accountability in all its activities.
“We hope that at the end of the exercise, the Commission, with the involvement of citizens, would have improved the quality of the Register of Voters, which is the bedrock of a successful election.
“Nigerians should note that perfecting the register is a continuous and painstaking process over time.
“Indeed, the presently displayed register contains all the voters dating back to the registration of 2011, not just the recent exercise.
“That some of these likely ineligible entries are being found presently confirms the Commission’s position that the best way to make the voters’ register more robust is for Nigerians to continue to scrutinise it and, more importantly, make their claims and objections for its improvement.”
Okoye thanked Nigerians for their sustained cooperation for the growth of Nigeria democracy. (NAN)