Independent National Electoral Commission says the extension of Continuous Voter Registration exercise will now end on July 31.
INEC’s decision to end the CVR this month end followed a judgement delivered by a Federal High Court on Wednesday dismissing the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) seeking an extension of the exercise beyond June 30.
INEC National Commissioners and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this at the end of an extraordinary session of the Commission’s management on Friday in Abuja.
Okoye said the court had affirmed that INEC is at liberty to pick a date for the suspension of the CVR, provided it’s not later than 90 days before the date fixed for the general elections as provided in Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
According to him, “In compliance with the interim injunction of the court pending the determination of the substantive suit and in order to enable more Nigerians to register, the commission continued with the CVR beyond 30th June, 2022.
“For this reason, the CVR has already been extended beyond 30th June, 2022 for a period of 15 days. With the judgement of the Federal High Court, all legal encumbrances have now been removed.
“Accordingly, the CVR is hereby extended for another two weeks until Sunday, 31st July 2022, thereby bringing the total duration of the extension to 31 days (1st-31st July 2022).
“The exercise has also been extended to eight hours daily from 9.00am-5.00pm instead of the current duration of six hours (9.00am-3.00pm) daily; and the exercise is also extended to include weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) as against only weekdays.”
He said although the timeframe may be tight for many prospective registrants, INEC is required to do a lot under the electoral legal framework in relation to voter registration and compilation of the register that will require time to accomplish.
Okoye added that the commission, among others, is required to clean-up the register to remove multiple registrants using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS); 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.
He added, “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; print millions of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for all fresh registrants and applicants for transfer and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs.
“Ensure that there is ample time for voters to collect their PVCs ahead of the 2023 General Election; print the final register of voters in triplicate for the 2023 General Elections involving a projected 28,500,000 pages for 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 make copies of the updated national register of voters available to political parties not later than 30 days to the date fixed for the General Election.”
The INEC National Commissioner said that following the continuation of the exercise beyond June 30, many of the registration centres recorded low turnout of prospective registrants.
“With this two-week extension, we appeal to eligible citizens not to wait until the last few days before they inundate the centres again to register,” he advised.