THE Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday expressed fears over Nigeria’s worsening security problems.
The election management body said it was particularly concerned about threats of kidnapping as it prepares for the Continuous Voter Registration ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The commission also vowed to prosecute Nigerians who supply false information during the registration exercise.
Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and Director (Information and Communication Technology), Chidi Nwafor, expressed these views in separate interventions during the second quarterly meeting with Bureau Chiefs of media organisations, in Abuja.
The commission also used the occasion to demonstrate the procedure for the proposed online registration as well as present the new INEC Voter Enrollment Device.
Yakubu said, “We are concerned about the security issues in some parts of the country. The commission would be deploying 5,346 officials to 2,673 registration centers. What happens if any of these staff is abducted?
“Our responsibility is to conduct credible elections and also protect our staff. The security agencies are also facing challenges and there have been concerns that INEC officials might be targets of criminals. What then is the best way to deploy these officials and machines while also ensuring their safety.”
According to him, registration would be carried out continuously for over a year until the third quarter of 2022, adding that the commission was targeting at least 20 million new voters.
He said the commission had also made robust provisions for Internally Displaced Persons who might have misplaced their Permanent Voter Cards due to insecurity.
Yakubu also said, “The success of the exercise depends to a considerable extent on citizens’ awareness through voter education. There will be new registrants, requests for intra-State and inter-State transfers as well as the replacement of voters’ cards as provided by law.”
On his part, Nwafor said INEC would not hesitate to use the nation’s Cybercrime Act 2015, to prosecute those who attempt to undermine the system.
He said[b], “After undertaking the online pre-registration, that person still has to come to our center for facial and biometric capture. At this point, we will be able to fish out underage registrants. And if that person brings people to force our officials to register him or her, there is still a technology that will enable us to fish out the culprit.”