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Claimed Kano Underage Voters: INEC Is Not Culpable By Mahmood Yakubu

Following the Kano State Local Government race hung on tenth February 2018, there were a few reports in the media, especially the online networking, affirming that underaged people voted in the decision. Both unequivocal and certain in a portion of these reports was the proposal that since the National Register of Voters ordered by INEC was utilized as a part of the decision, the affirmed issue of underaged voting in the Kano Local Government race is connected to a pervasiveness of underaged registrants in the National Register of Voters.

I should take note of that till date, not a solitary formal protestation on this issue has been gotten by the Commission. Or maybe, a few partners, including a political gathering, have taken to the media to scrutinize INEC and now and again to criticize the uprightness of the National Register of Voters. Worried that a portion of the cases being made about the Register could make questions in the brains of natives about INEC's arrangements for the expected general decisions, the Commission on 21st February 2018 set up an examination board into the affirmations that underaged people voted in the Kano State Local Government race, utilizing the Register of Voters given to the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) by INEC, as recommended by law.

For the shirking of uncertainty, let me accentuate to begin with, that INEC was not at all engaged with sorting out the Kano State Local Government decision past the lawful necessity that the enlist of voters ordered by INEC ought to be utilized as a part of all Local Government races across the nation. The lead of that decision was altogether the obligation of KANSIEC. Furthermore, let me likewise underscore that the investigative advisory group was not set up to ask into the general lead of the Kano State Local Government decision or to ask into the association or difficulties of KANSIEC. Without a doubt, INEC has no lawful dispatch to do as such. Or maybe, as the Terms of Reference of the Committee appear, its part was entirely to ask into claims connecting the enlist of voters gathered by INEC and the charged episodes of underaged voting in the decision.

The investigative board had National Commissioner Engineer Abubakar Nahuche as Chairman, another National Commissioner Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, two Resident Electoral Commissioners (Barristers Mike Igini and Kassim Geidam) and additionally a few Directors and staff of the Commission, who are specialists in ICT, as individuals. It has since presented its Report. The Commission has deliberately considered the report and acknowledged its discoveries and suggestions. In view of its Terms of Reference, there are four key focuses in the discoveries and suggestions of the Committee, which might be outlined as takes after:

I. Kano State Independent Electoral Commission asked for and got from INEC the Kano State Register of Voters for the race. The Register was delivered for use for the races. Be that as it may, the Register was just located in a couple of surveying units. As it were, the Register was not utilized as a part of the vast majority of the surveying units. Truth be told, accreditation utilizing the Permanent Voter's Card (PVC) to a great extent did not occur.

ii. Given that the Register was considerably not used to certify voters before voting, it is intelligent to presume that if underaged voting happened in the race, it was not because of any nearness of underaged registrants on the Register of Voters. Notwithstanding, in the wake of inspecting a portion of the pictures available for use, the Committee found that they have been accessible some time before the Kano Local Government Elections. The few pictures and video cuts from Kano demonstrate no accreditation of voters or any association with the Register of Voters.

iii. There is require and plentiful space for joint effort amongst INEC and all partners to proceed to refresh and enhance the National Register of Voters to kill every single ineligible registrant from it, including dead people, outsiders and underaged registrants.

iv. INEC should work with the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to guarantee consistent enhancements in the nature of all decisions led in Nigeria.

Since the focal enthusiasm of the Commission and Nigerians in this remaining parts the National Register of Voters since it is the bedrock of the 2019 general decisions, let me share with you a couple of actualities about the present enlist of voters.

Basically, the present enlist of voters is the one assembled by the last Commission in 2011. Review that before 2011, the enlist of voters was loaded with mistakes including abnormal sections like Mike Tyson, inaccurate passages and lost records. Despite the fact that the pre-2011 enroll should contain the fingerprints of registrants, the last Commission found that the majority of the fingerprints were missing or of exceptionally low quality. Likewise, there were joining issues and a considerable measure of information were lost since they were gathered utilizing incongruent stages. Moreover, there were different enlistments, as there was negligible endeavor to expel numerous passages from the enlist. These were a portion of the issues that the last Commission endeavored to explain by setting out on crisp enrollment of voters in 2011.

Since the 2011 general races, the Commission has been refreshing this enlist as per the law along three lines: (I) expansion of new registrants from the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR); (ii) more stringent running of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to recognize different registrants and expel them; and (iii) refreshing deficient records, for example, passages with inadequate fingerprints and wrongly spelt names among others. These turned out to be especially vital with the presentation of the PVC and Smart Card Reader (SCR). Hence, records without fingerprints must be refreshed, something else, the concerned voters won't have the capacity to vote utilizing the PVC and SCR. Because of these updates and tidy up, a last enroll of 68,833,476 was utilized for the 2015 general races.

Thus, this Commission trusts that it acquired an enlist that:

I. Meets an elevated expectation of biometric enlistment. Actually, numerous different nations have consequently learnt from INEC in taking care of their own registers. For example, amid the current Presidential race in Liberia, the nation's National Electoral Commission (NEC), through the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), which I as of now seat, asked for the administrations of INEC staff to deal with issues with their enroll. Their work has been profoundly lauded by these associations and the conciliatory group for adding to the achievement of the Liberian decision;

ii. Contains 68.8 million substantial sections, effectively the biggest single database of Nigerians in presence;

iii. Backings unique mark coordinating for verification of voters amid decisions utilizing the SCR;

iv. Backings the presentation of machine decipherable, chip-based PVC; and

v. Guarantees nonstop refreshing through the Continuous Voter Registration, as recommended by law.

Under the present INEC, just 432,233 new registrants have been added to our national Voter Register. This speaks to 0.9 percent expansion on the Register utilized for the 2015 general races. These increments came basically from the CVR completed in 2015 and 2016 in States where we led off-season Governorship races in particular Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo and Ondo and also the FTC Area Council races. From April 2017 when we started the CVR to December of that year, about 3,981,502 new registrants were recorded, including figures from Anambra State Governorship decision held in November 2017. This figure speaks to the main real augmentations to the Register since this Commission went ahead board. All things considered, with the exception of the 190,767 new registrants added to the voter enlist in Anambra State, the new registrants are going to be added to the national Register.

It is vital to advise us that this National Register of Voters has been utilized to lead the 2011 and 2015 general races, and additionally a few re-run, off-season and by-decisions. A large portion of these races have been decreed to meet global norms as well as delivered changed results for various political gatherings at various circumstances. Surely, the Register utilized as a part of the Kano Local Government race of tenth February 2018 was the one aggregated in 2011, refreshed in 2014 and utilized for the 2015 general decisions.

This Commission did not add a solitary name to the voter enroll. Likewise with all decisions, some political gatherings have won and some have lost utilizing a similar Register. Actually, numerous voting public host changed starting with one political get-together then onto the next between decisions based on a similar Register. In this way, for anybody to recommend that a similar enlist, based on which political gatherings have won and lost races at various circumstances, is all of a sudden inconsistent is interested most definitely.

Give me a chance to emphasize that this Commission is persuaded that we now have a tried and true enroll, regardless of whether it isn't great. We trust that it is a colossal national resource, effortlessly the biggest database of Nigerians in presence today containing more than 70 million passages of names, addresses, photos, ten fingerprints, phone numbers and so forth. I beseech all Nigerians to see the estimation of this national resource and work with the Commission to keep on improving it. Considering that there are scarcely any flawless voters roll anyplace, we can keep on working together with partners and in reality all natives to guarantee that every ineligible registrant and sections are expelled from the enroll and that qualified voters who have not enlisted exploit the continuous CVR.

Let me additionally share with you what we have been doing and what we intend to do as a Commission to keep on updating the enlist and expel ineligible sections from it.

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