The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has resolved to finally suspend the Continuous Voter Registration exercise on July 31, 2022.
The commission had extended the voter registration exercise beyond the June 30 deadline it earlier set due to an interim injunction issued by an Abuja High Court following a suit filed by the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in conunction with about 185 Nigerians seeking extension of the CVR beyond the earlrier scheduled date.
The INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Education Voter Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye In a statement on Friday, said the decision to finally end the exercise was reached after an extraordinary session of the commission held on Friday to discuss among other things, suspension of ongoing CVR.
Okoye said the session was necessitated by the judgment delivered by Federal High Court on Wednesday 13th July which dismissed the suit filed by SERAP about extension of the CVR exercise. about after a deliberation session in Abuja.
According to Okoye, the court held that INEC is at liberty to suspend CVR at any date of its choice provided that it is not later than 90 days before the date of general election as provided in section 9 (6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
He pointed out that the commission had in compliance with the court order, extended the deadline and by 15 days and will now make it end on July 31, to enable more eligible Nigerians register.
He explained that with the legal encumbrances removed by the court judgment, the Commission is now at liberty to suspend the exercise because it has a lot of other things to do before the 2023 general election and will hereby end CVR come July 31st, 2022.
However, INEC stated that it understands that the timeframe may be tight for many prospective registrants, “there is a lot that the Commission is required to do under the electoral legal framework in relation to voter registration and compilation of the register that will require time to accomplish.”
In lieu of this, Okoye stated the Commission has decided to extend their working hours to eight hours daily from 9.00am to 5.00pm instead of the current duration of six hours (9.00am -3.00pm) daily.
He added that the extension also include weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) as against only weekdays.
According to Okoye, the Commission is expected to before the General Election:
1. Do Clean-up of the register to remove multiple registrants using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS);
2. Consolidate the national register of voters (existing voters and new registrants) and display same on Polling Unit basis for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) across the 774 Local Government Areas nationwide for public scrutiny.
This lasts for a period of one week. On the basis of a new projection of 95 million voters, on the basis of 10 voters per page, the Commission has to print 9,500,000 pages for the display;
3. Print millions of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC’s) for all fresh registrants and applicants for transfer and replacement of damaged or lost PVCs;
4. Ensure that there’s an ample time for voters to collect their PVCs ahead of the 2023 General Election.
5. Print the final register of voters in triplicate for the 2023 General Election involving a projected 28, 500,000 pages for the accreditation and display at 176,846 polling units for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) on 25th February 2023 and state elections (Governorship and State Assembly) on 11th March 2023, and;
6. Make copies of the updated national register of voters available for political parties not later than 30 days to the date fixed for the General Election.