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Coalition cries out over deprivation of voters PVCs in Lagos, calls for extension of collection exercise

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A Coalition of groups which include Women Advocates and Research Development, WARDC, CivicHive, a nonprofit organisation, Community Life Project, CLP, aka Reclaim lNaija, ConnectHub, FixPolitics, Communitylifeproject, and Enough is Enough Nigeria, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to extend the date of PVCs issuances to voters in Lagos.

INEC had on Sunday, February 5, 2023, ended the call for collection of PVCs which it earlier extended its date.

But, the Coalition in s statement released on Wednesday, February 8, 2923 said that a large number of eligible voters whose names are in the Voters’ register turned up at INEC’s offices to collect their PVCs with their registration slips, only to be sent away empty-handed by INEC officials on the grounds that their PVCs were “not found” or they were “Omitted”.

It noted that some of those affected made multiple unsuccessful trips on different dates to INEC’s offices and the commission assured some of them that their cases would be escalated and they would be contacted to pick up their PVCs.

The Coalition added, “The reality is that registered voters showed up to collect their PVCs and INEC failed to honour its mandate.

“The Electoral Act clearly states in Section 16(1) that, the commission shall design, cause to be printed, and control the issuance of voters’ cards to voters whose names appear in the register.

Therefore, INEC owes all duly registered citizens who are in INEC’s Voters Register to collect their PVCs so that they can vote!.”

In a subheading; “We demand that INEC extends PVC collection in Lagos to Sunday, February 12, 2023.”

It recalled that on Monday, February 6, EiE sent 845 text messages to Lagosians who had submitted complaints on its RSVP Portal, and as of the morning of Wednesday, February 8, in barely 48 hours, 163 people had responded that they were in INEC’s Voters’ Register, but they were denied their PVCs.

The Coalition added, “There is precedent for this extension as in 2014, while PVC collection was stopped across the country, it was extended in Lagos because INEC Lagos took responsibility for its shortcomings. In the words of Mr. Adekunle Ogunmola, the Lagos REC at the time, “This delay was not caused by the people, it was caused by INEC.”

“The commission is depriving Lagosians of their right to participate in the electoral process due to these observed lapses.”
On the issue of late arrival of PVCs, it said, “PVC collection started on December 12, 2022. INEC issued a statement on January 24, 2023, that it had received its final batch of cards. However, INEC Lagos officials kept promising citizens that more cards would arrive. This was reinforced on January 31, 2023, during a CSO engagement with an INEC Lagos official.”

On the “Absence of Standard Operating Procedures, for PVC Collection, the Coalition wrote, “Despite repeated requests, INEC failed to make the SOP public, therefore:, Citizens did not know that the escalation process included filling out a Complaint Form and did not insist on INEC doing so in cases where it was not offered.

“Citizens did not know that each location was supposed to have a Collection Form that should be duly signed by the voter upon collecting his or her PVC. But this was not the case in all collection centres. Instead of the Collection Form, a register was opened in some locations where voters manually wrote their names and signed.’

On another subheading; “Collection by Proxy”, the group wondered why collection by Proxy which is supposed to be unlawful has been swept under the carpet as examples abound of people collecting PVCs by Proxy.

It described such development as a contributory factor to the cards of other citizens not being found.
The statement further reads:

“Underutilization of CSOs and Volunteers”, “In several locations, INEC’s staff were overwhelmed by the crowd leading to a very slow pace of PVC sorting and distribution. Volunteers offered to help sort cards but they were not allowed.

“INEC has the information of the owners of the cards that are still in its possession and this must be made public. It is only fair that INEC takes responsibility for ensuring citizens who had made spirited efforts to collect their PVCs can collect them and vote.

We offer to work with INEC to have adequate volunteers and security to arrange the cards and attend to citizens that show up to pick up their cards.
“INEC and its partner CSOs worked hard to ensure that citizens came out to register to vote and engage in the electoral process.

In all its communication, INEC said that it would print cards for all registered voters so they could vote. Therefore, it would not only be unfair but also illegal to then deliberately deny any duly registered voter the opportunity to vote.”

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