The Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Center (HEDA), has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the extensive and comprehensive report of an ad hoc committee set up by the commission to investigate alleged voting by under-aged persons using the national register in the Local Government election held in Kano state on 10th February, 2018.
This is just as the non-governmental organization invoked a Freedom of Information request on the Commission for the copy of the manual check of the voters register that will enable the removal of identified under-age registered voters from the register to be used for the registration of ballot papers.
In a letter sent to the chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, HEDA acknowledged receipt of the committee’s report following its Freedom of Information request for the report, just at it added that there is an urgent need to clean up the voters register across the country.
HEDA’s chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, who said the letter on behalf of the organization, lamented that the same register with the under-aged voters bloating the number of registered voters will be used in preparing ballot papers with grave effect on the cost of ballot papers preparation to the country.
The letter reads: “HEDA (Resource Center) is using this medium to commend and appreciate the Commission for being conscious of the fundamental role of a credible register of voters in all elections and mindful of the outrage caused by the alleged voting by the under-aged persons using the national register in the Local Government election held in Kano state on 10th February, 2018 which led to the constitution of a committee to investigate the allegation.
“HEDA confirmed and acknowledge the receipt of the Committee. During our study of this report, we observe and salute the depth of extensive and comprehensive investigation undertaken by the committee during the investigation.
“The report has it that the committee in their investigation carried out a manual check of the 2015 register of voters in Kano State with a random check of six (6) Local Government Areas comprising 1,237 polling units and 693,935 voters and it revealed some 2,941 apparently under-age persons from the 2011 and 2015 registration exercise.
“The committee also came up with some recommendations to the Commission which includes that the commission should carry out a manual check of the voters Register in the 44 LGA’s in Kano State in order to interrogate and remove any confirmed ineligible persons from the register.
“The Committee further recommended for the Commission to direct all REC’s across the Federation to carry out a similar manual check of the voter’s Register in their States and prepare reports for submission to the Headquarters.”
HEDA said it is impressed by the committee’s recommendations, adding that there is truly an imperative need for the Commission to urgently do a clean-up not only in Kano state but also in all the other 35 states of the Federation and FCT.
“We are much aware all Chairmen of political parties have copies of Voters’ register and this list must have contained those under-aged registered voters just identified by your committee.
“This is so because the current register containing the under-age records will be used by unscrupulous politicians to manipulate the electoral process, the same register with the under-aged voters bloating the number of registered voters will be used in preparing ballot papers with grave effect on the cost of ballot papers preparation to the country.
“Since the report of the committee was submitted in March, it is our belief that your Commission must have concluded the recommended manual check of the voters register and identified under-age registered voters sifted from the current register provided to chairmen of political parties and used for preparing ballot papers.
“We hereby demand a copy of the national manual check of the register. We have thus brought this application pursuant to the provisions of Section 2, 3, and 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
“We look forward to your utmost cooperation and prompt response to the requested information and in effect, within seven (7) days of this application as provided under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011,” HEDA said.