2023 General Election: INEC to Begin Registration of Internally Displaced Persons Nationwide
By: Janet Samuel
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will print new Permanent Voters Cards for the Internally Displaced Persons and recreate their polling units in their camps so as to make them eligible to vote in the forth coming general elections.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu made this known during the North-Central town hall meeting organized by the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) in Abuja.
Professor Yakubu, represented by the INEC Commissioner and Information and Voter committee, Barrister Festus Okoye said the eligible voters that are displaced cannot be denied of their franchise not withstanding their location and their proximity to their State and Federal Constituencies.
He Said, the Commission has developed regulations and guidelines on IDP voting and will implement the intendment of the law.
“The 2023 general elections will come with challenges and the Commission is determined to surmount these challenges and conduct free, fair, credible and inclusive election
“Growing insecurity in several parts of the Country and the increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons will pose challenges to the conduct of the 2023 general election
‘So many of the Internally Displaced Persons are in the houses of friends and relatives and have lost their Permanent Voters Cards and it is next to impossibility to recreate their constituencies and polling units
“This is because section 47 (1) of the Electoral Act clearly provides that A person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered”
“Some of these persons are no longer in their constituencies and can no longer access their polling units and so many of them have lost their Permanent Voters Cards
“While it is easy to recreate constituencies and polling units in clustered camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP camps), it is next to impossibility to do so for persons staying in scattered locations
“For the internally displaced, the Commission will print new Permanent Voters Cards for them and recreate their polling units in their camps and they will be eligible to vote in some of the elections depending on their location and their proximity to their State and Federal Constituencies
“This is in accordance with section 24(1) of the Electoral Act, which provides that In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised” he said.
The INEC Boss noted that the commission will roll out modalities in few weeks time for further devolution and rotation of Continuous Voters Registration to communities that are still inaccessible to the registration officers, pointing out that the Commission is currently at the terminal phase of its Continuous Voters Registration Exercise.
Professor Yakubu explained that the Commission will expand the base of the training of its ad-hoc staff to acquaint them more with the workings of the BVAS and other technological innovations of the Commission to overcome the challenges experienced in the recent concluded elections.
He charged the media to isolate and analyze the provisions in the law and treat the entire law as a compound package for the conduct of election emphasizing that a good knowledge of the law and its provisions will assist in crafting good editorial thereby holding the Commission and the Political Parties accountable to their implementation.
Professor Yakubu also encouraged the media to continue to highlight and analyze the causes and possible solutions to the security challenges in the country.
He advised the conventional media to filter information coming from the social media by verifying the sources before using them.
In a remark, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, who is also the sponsor of the program noted that Journalists are giving voices to the governed and the under-representation in their reportage which helps to reduce apathy.
She encouraged Media Practitioners to lead and serve as catalysts in building a democracy that is accountable to its people and work together to address challenges to freedom.
Earlier, the President of Nigeria Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isa, said the town hall meeting is expected to access the media performance and suggest ways for improvement.
He emphasized that the town hall meeting that will take place in all geopolitical zones of the Country, is aimed at bringing senior editors, Journalists and stakeholders together to brainstorm ways of contributing to national development through effective reportage.
Isa added that it is only when Journalist are free to monitor, investigate and decide public polices and action that good governance will take place.
The theme of the town hall meeting is “Agenda Setting for Sustainable Democratic Culture”