EU EOM: INEC Voter Registration System Failed to Ensure Inclusive Participation in Nigeria.
In a recent report released by the European Union (EU), concerns were raised over the lack of a reliable and inclusive voter register by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Nigeria, as well as the inadequate delivery of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). These issues resulted in the potential disenfranchisement of eligible voters, undermining the fundamental right to vote.
According to the EU report, every Nigerian citizen aged 18 and above has the right to vote, provided they are residents, workers, or originating from the locality of registration. However, the report highlights that the registration process created obstacles for eligible voters, particularly for those who turned 18 after the registration period closed.
Nigerian law allows for registration up to 90 days before elections. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), led by Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, closed the registration process over six months prior to the election day, citing time constraints in preparing the voter register. This decision effectively disenfranchised individuals who reached the age of eligibility after the registration period ended.
One of the main concerns raised by the European Union report is the lack of a temporary mechanism to address this issue. The absence of an alternative registration process or provision for late registrations by Mahmood led to INEC further hindered the participation of newly eligible voters, denying them their democratic right to vote.
Furthermore, the report highlights the challenges faced in the delivery of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), which are essential for voter identification during elections. The European Union report notes that the inadequate delivery of PVCs by INEC compounded the problem of disenfranchisement, as many eligible voters have been unable to obtain their cards in a timely manner.
The European Union report emphasizes the importance of a reliable and inclusive voter register as a fundamental pillar of a democratic electoral process. It calls for the Nigerian authorities, particularly the INEC, to take immediate measures to address these concerns and ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
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The EOM in their report stated:
“A lack of a reliable and inclusive voter register and of adequate delivery of PVCs.”
‘Every Nigerian citizen 18 years of age and over may vote, provided they are resident or
working in or originating from the locality of registration. As Nigerian citizens must be 18 years of age at the time of registration, any eligible person turning that age after the registration period closed was effectively disenfranchised.”
“The law allows registration up to 90 days before elections, but INEC closed the possibility over 6 months before election day, citing time constraints for preparing the voter register. No temporary mechanism was adopted to avoid disenfranchisements.”- The EOM added.
EOM: The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the European Union’s diplomatic service. Since 2011, the EEAS carries out the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy to promote peace, prosperity, security, and the interests of Europeans across the globe.
The EEAS works under the political guidance of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice-President of the European Commission (often referred to as HR/VP).
A strong asset of the EEAS is its ability to work closely with the foreign and defence ministries of the member states of the European Union as well as with the EU institutions such as the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. It also has a strong working relationship with the United Nations and other international and multilateral Organisations.