Lagos, Kano top list of voters

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Lagos and Kano states have the highest number of registered voters, going by the register which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented to political parties yesterday.

INEC has cleared 84,004,084 would-be voters for the forthcoming elections, after carrying out Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) on those who registered during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Of the over 84 million voters, Lagos State has 6, 570,291 million. Kano has 5, 457,747 million would be voters.

In 2015, Lagos and Kano states recorded 5.8 million and 5.0 million (representing 11.30 per cent and 8.51 per cent).

In the register presented by INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, Northwest has the highest number of registered would-be voters with over 20.2 million. It is trailed by the Southwest with 16.3 million.

The Southeast has the least with slightly over 10 million voters. Northeast has 11.3 million; Northcentral (13.4 million) and Southsouth (12.9 million).

Male registrants are 44, 405,439 million and female 39, 598,645 million.

Prof. Yakubu said INEC had kept strictly to its timetable and programme of activities.

He reassured the party leaders that there was no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for the 2015 general elections and the 2016 Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The INEC boss also denied that the card reader had been enhanced to recapture voters’ fingerprints at polling units and automatically overwrite the biometric record on the commission’s database.

He said smart card readers would be used to accredit voters for the 2019 general elections.

Yakubu said: “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 the card readers.

“Secondly, the 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,”

Yakubu added 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.

”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,” the professor said.

Yakubu said Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), had been printed and delivered to all the states for collection, but regretted that millions of cards were yet to be collected.

The electoral umpire also raised alarm over a new method of vote buying being devised to undermine the voting process.

Yakubu said the commission had received credible information that some partisan actors were going round buying up PVCs from voters or financially inducing them to collect the Voter Identification Numbers (VIN) 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 the 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 reassure Nigerians that we are aware of the new tricks. It is a futile effort.

“We will work with the 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.’’

Prof Yakubu said the commission had responded to the vote-buying menace in three ways, including the alteration of the configuration of polling units by moving the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles, making it difficult for voters to expose their marked ballot papers.

“Secondly, we have introduced a partial ban on the use of mobile phone and other photographic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles.

“Thirdly, we are introducing the rolling and flattening of ballot papers by voters before casting them into the ballot boxes.’’

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