The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said underage voters and parents of all ineligible voters will be arrested for aiding and abetting electoral fraud in the 2023 general elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, sounded the warning while featuring on a live Television programme on Monday.
The INEC commissioner warned underage voters to stay away from polling units during the general elections or risk arrest.
He said, “We have made it very clear that any visibly underage person should not approach any of our polling units on election day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture”.
The Commission further dismissed those involved in the buying of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and harvesting of Voter Identification Numbers (VIN).
He said, “Those who are harvesting Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of registered voters are doing that in futility.
“Why are they harvesting and buying off VINs when those VINs were published in our local government areas and in our registration areas when we displayed the voter registers for claims and objections? Those VINs are there.
“We have made it very clear that this Commission will deploy the BVAS for voters’ identification and authentication and the data of every registered voter in Nigeria per polling unit is domiciled in the BVAS and not in the PVCs.
“The only thing the Presiding Officer will do on election day is to look at the last six digits of your PVC and use it to bring out your VIN for the purpose of calling up your data from the BVAS.
“Those buying PVCs and harvesting VINs can only engage in voter oppression.
“They can only prevent the voter from going to the polling unit on election day but in terms of carrying the PVC of someone else to give another person for voting, I can assure you that it is next to impossible”.
On recruitment of adhoc staff for the election, Okoye said: “The Commission will engage 1.4 million adhoc staff made up of National Youth Service Corps members and students in tertiary institutions in their final year.”
He said, “You will know that it is next to impossible for INEC to have over 1.4 million staff in its payroll”.
“The strength staff of the Commission is around 16,000 and so when we devolve the collection to the various registration areas, we are going to engage the services of corps members to assist the Commission in terms of giving out these PVCs.”
Okoye said the Commission would publish the official register of voters that will be used for the 2023 general election on January 16.
“Our voters register is robust and we believe that it is very credible. As of today, we have 93.5 registered voters in the register.
“On the 16th of January 2023, the Commission will publish the official register of voters that will be used for the 2023 general election.
“Yes, I completely agree that there have been issues around underage registration.
“In some of the areas where we recorded underage registration, we have summoned all the officers that engaged in that particular exercise to appear before the Commission and appear before a special panel of the Commission and it is still ongoing.
“We have made it very clear that any visibly underage person should not approach any of our polling units on election day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture.
“The Chairman has told Nigerians that the cleaning of the voter register is an ongoing venture and we are going to make sure that all malicious registrations that got into our register will be removed prior to election day.
“Some of the information on social media relating to underage registration was carried out between 2011 and before we went into the 2019 general election.
“This Commission had the courage to publish the voter register and asked Nigerians to scrutinise the register to make sure that every malicious registration is removed.
“We assure Nigerians that the voters register that will be used in the 2023 election is the one that they will be proud of,” he said.
Council Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Other PDP Candidates In Rivers
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has expressed confidence that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will win the forthcoming Governorship election in the area, not leaving out other positions down to the last councillor.
He stated that the foundation of victory has been laid by the Governor of the State, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructural development in the State.
Hon. Okechukwu said this while reacting after the State PDP campaign team visited his area on Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbo were ready to reciprocate what the present administration had done for the LGA in every aspect.
“ I have no fear and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara, and other State candidates of the PDP, will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95 percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out en masse for the campaign. I am really happy,” Hon. Okechukwu said.
Also speaking, Chairman Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“ I will say that the massive turn out of people is historic because this is the first time people came out en masse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo is Simplified and totally PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who registered for PVCs to go and collect their cards because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
In his own remarks, former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in the state and a stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation had been done.
According to her , women in Oyigbo were already prepared to celebrate the victory of Siminialayi Fubara come May this year, saying they will come in their numbers to vote for PDP.
“ I am convinced that Sim Fubara will do better hence he was a civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.
By: Tonye Orabere
Ebonyi APC Chair, Reps Candidate, Others Arrested Over Alleged Killings
No fewer than 26 suspects have been arrested over the recent killings and arsons that took place in Ekoli Edda Community, in the Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Among those arrested were the state Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Stanley Okoro-Emegha, and a former chairman of the Afikpo South LGA and Federal House of Representatives candidate for Afikpo North/South Constituency in the 2023 general election, Eni Chima.
The police claimed they (the suspects) were responsible for the killings and arson that pervaded the area on December 26, 2022. In the incident, two persons including a Police Inspector, were killed, while two houses were torched.
The Ebonyi State Police Command, during a press conference, stated this in Abakaliki on Monday.
The command, which spoke through its spokesperson, SP Chris Anyanwu, accused the suspects of being behind the dastardly acts, vowing to arraign them in court soonest.
Aside from murder, the command also accused the suspects of arson, conspiracy, armed robbery and illegal possession of firearms.
According to the police, the suspects must face the wrath of the law, in spite of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up by Governor David Umahi.
SP Anyanwu said, “The key actors among the suspects arrested, volunteered useful ‘confessional statements’ that exposed the aggregate of overwhelming findings hereunder outlined:
“The fracas that engulfed Ekoli-Edda on 26/12/2022 ignited at about 1600 hours during a face-off between the security aides of Hon Stanley Okoro Emegha versus a faction of Ekoli-Edda youth believed to be loyalists of Hon Eni Uduma Chima.
“The protracted political rivalry/supremacy struggle between the duo, is the cause of the showdown that took place. Interestingly, the two political stalwarts hail from same community, belong to same political party and even live in close proximity.
“The visit of the APC chairman to his village on the fateful day, with his aides, infuriated the fragment of the youths in the area who are purportedly adherents of Eni Uduma Chima, hence the showdown that ensued.
“The war songs chanted by Egwu Famous Chinedu, the town crier, amidst hitting/blowing of his gong/trumpet, respectively, galvanised the youth into further action, hence, the rampage and escalation of the brouhaha.”
He added, “The investigation further revealed that an attempt to arrest one Aruah said to be the leader of the Ekoli-Edda youth warriors, brought in the warriors who were reserved for the purpose of fighting in the boundary dispute between them and a neighbouring community in Cross River State. The said warriors wielded sophisticated prohibited firearms and their actions further degenerated the situation.”
Release PVCs In Opposition Strongholds, ADC Urges INEC
The African Democratic Congress, ADC, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of hoarding permanent voter’s cards, PVCs, with the intent to favour a particular political party at the polls.
ADC alleged that the only explanation for the inability of some persons to get their PVCs despite the Commission’s promises and show of force was its deliberate strategy to disenfranchise some voters.
The party made its position on the PVC collection known in a statement by Mabel Oboh, the National Diversity and Inclusion Director, and the National Representative of the party in Lagos Campaign Council.
According to the party, “in Lagos for instance, non-indigenes are greatly affected by this deliberate act of disenfranchisement, based on feedback from our supporters.”
ADC noted that, “It is becoming more evident that INEC is not prepared to conduct a free and fair election come February, as a good number of registered voters have not been able to collect their PVCs.
“This is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise willing, but already fed up Nigerians from voting across the country.
“INEC had enough time to prepare for elections but it has shown itself to be partisan by denying people in the stronghold of the opposition their PVCs.
“We consider this action as rigging before elections. This perpetual act should not be condoned by Nigerians
“ADC also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure all eligible voters collect their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs.
“Our democratic systems and processes must be respected for the betterment of all, especially now that the country needs good leadership.
“As a third-force political party, ADC has worked very hard to ensure that we win a lot of seats and we are not going to fold our arms and watch our hard work go up in flames.
“We are also advising all those that have not got their voter’s card to continue to raise alarm.
“This time around, the people should not allow their mandate to be stolen from them.”
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