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An election observer group, the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) has tasked political parties in the country to fully participate in the cleanup of the voter register
The group made the call following what it termed as the failure of political parties in the country to participate in the process of cleaning up of voters register since 2011.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, ISDMG executive director, Dr Chima Amadi said following an FOI inquiry to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it discovered that even though INEC has been complying with the provision of the Electoral Act and making voters register available to political parties, none of the political parties or individuals have bothered to verify the voters register provided by the INEC since 2011.
According to him, the Electoral Act 2010 (as Amended) in Section 10 (3) provided that the Commission shall, within 60 days after each year, make available to every political party the names and addresses of each person registered during the year.
“We were astonished to learn that all opposition parties in Kano State and indeed all other states where allegations of underage voters, aliens and other unqualified persons have ever been made, no political party in the country has ever reached out to INEC with any objection from the copies of the register which they hold,” he said
Dr Amadi wondered why parties have refused to participate in the cleanup only to turn around to cry after the milk is spill when there was ample opportunity to ensure the milk did not spill in the first place.
He said this reactionary approach of crying after the milk is spilled is not in the interest of the country’s democracy and particularly free and fair election, stressing that political parties have a role to play in the duty of INEC to maintain a credible voters register and this informed why the law allows the Electoral Commission to issue copies of the updated registers to them.
He said, “The existence of a credible votes register is pivotal to having a free, fair and credible election. Where the integrity of the voters register cannot be guaranteed the outcome of any process flowing from such register cannot be said to have allowed this e votes of citizens to count.
“We urge all the political parties who have received the voters register to duplicate them and send to their ward chapters who are closer to the grassroots for verification so as to identify all unqualified names in the register. By so doing, INEC will have no options but to respond to all claims and objections raised by the Parties. All aliens, underage persons and indeed all unqualified persons must have their names expunged from the voters register.”
The ISDMG boss said his group is confident that following measures being taken by the current INEC leadership, the 2019 election will be free and fair if politicians play by the rules.
He said the suspension of the use of incident forms because of penchant for politicians to abuse it and the decision by INEC to acquire new enhanced card readers which will read finger prints a lot more easily and also register finger prints on the spot where the card is read as authentic and the face of the voter is crosschecked and verified from the register at the polling unit will ensure a credible poll in 2019.
He said the new card readers were used in the Anambra governorship elections and only recorded 0.01 percent failure and 90% of these failures were rectified there in the field, adding that the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections will provide ample opportunities for further tests and improvements to these innovations.
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