The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will end the Continuous Voter Registration exercise on July 31, 2022.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, made this disclosure in a statement on Friday.
According to the statement, this was necessary as a result of “the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court on Wednesday 13th July 2022 in which it dismissed the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which is seeking an extension of the exercise beyond 30th June 2022”, which affirmed that “INEC is at liberty to appoint a date of its choice to suspend the CVR, provided it is not later than 90 days before the date fixed for the General Election as provided in Sec. 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022.”
The commission explained that it complied with an interim court injunction pending the determination of the substantive suit and continued the CVR beyond its initial deadline of June 30.
It said it had, therefore, extended the deadline for a period of 15 days.
Following the Federal High Court judgement, which, according to INEC, had removed all legal encumbrances, the commission decided that it was extending the deadline of the voter registration exercise by another two weeks until Sunday, July 31, 2022.
The statement partly read, “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 Commission has taken the following decisions: 1. 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).
“2. 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.
“3. The exercise is also extended to include weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) as against only weekdays. We appreciate that the timeframe may be tight for many prospective registrants, but there is a lot that the Commission is required to do under the electoral legal framework in relation to voter registration and compilation of the register that will require time to accomplish.”
INEC pleaded for understanding, stating that it had a number of activities to carry out in preparation for the 2023 general election, hence the “tight timeframe.”
The statement added, “For instance, the Commission is required to: 1. Clean-up of the register to remove multiple registrants using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS); 2. 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. 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; 3. Print millions of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for all fresh registrants and applicants for transfer and replacement of lost or damaged PVCs; 4. Ensure that there is ample time for voters to collect their PVCs ahead of the 2023 General Election; 5. Print the final register of voters in triplicate for the 2023 General Election 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 6. 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 statement added that the CVR exercise would continue after the 2023 general election.
“We appeal for the patience and understanding of all Nigerians as we conclude the exercise which will resume after the 2023 General Election. We observed that following the continuation of the exercise beyond 30th June 2022, 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.
“We appreciate the interest of Nigerians to register and participate in the electoral process and once again reiterate our commitment to credible and transparent elections. This can only be achieved with the support and cooperation of all Nigerians,” it stated.