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CSO Statement – PVC Collection in Lagos

 

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February 8, 2023
Lagos, Nigeria

For Immediate Release:

INEC SHOULD PROVIDE PVCS TO LAGOSIANS

The right to vote is the cornerstone of a free and democratic society.
Kofi Annan
(Former Secretary-General of the United Nations)

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stopped the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) on Sunday, February 5th.

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 their PVCs so that they can vote! 

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”. Some of those affected made multiple unsuccessful trips on different dates to INEC’s offices. INEC assured some of these voters that their cases would be escalated and they would be contacted to pick up their PVCs. The reality is that registered voters showed up to collect their PVCs and INEC failed to honour its mandate. 

We demand that INEC extend PVC Collection in Lagos to Sunday, February 12, 2023 as voters should not be penalised for INEC’s administrative lapses. On Monday, February 6th, EiE sent 845 text messages to Lagosians who had submitted complaints on  its RSVP Portal and as of the morning of Wednesday, February 8th, in barely 48 hours, 163 people had responded that they are in INEC’s Voters’ Register, but they were denied their PVCs. 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:

  1. Late Arrival of PVCs
    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.
  2. Absence of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for PVC Collection
    Despite repeated requests, INEC failed to make the SOP public, therefore:
    a. 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.
    b. 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.
  3. Collection by Proxy
    Whereas collection by proxy was supposed to be unlawful, we have several examples of this happening and this could be a contributory factor to the cards of other citizens not being found.
  4. 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.

 

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

 


CivicHive (www.elections.civichive.org) is a non-profit organisation set up to create an innovative virtual & physical space for partnerships and to raise civic tech leaders/solutions in Nigeria.

ConnectHub (www.connecthubng.org) is a human rights platform that documents, defends and advocates against police brutality and state violence in Nigeria.

Enough is Enough Nigeria (www.eie.ng) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. EiE’s #RSVP – Register | Select | Vote | Protect is Nigeria’s longest-runing get-out-the-vote campaign. EiE was an integral part of the #OccupyNigeria movement in 2012; co-leads the #OpenNASS campaign and launched the #OfficeOfTheCitizen campaign to mark its 5th anniversary in 2015. It publishes a collection of essays to mark its decade plus of impact in 2022 – Footprints: Past | Present | Future.

#FixPolitics (www.fixpolitics.org) is a citizens-led research-based initiative advocating for structural change of politics and governance in Nigeria and on the African continent. #FixPolitics recently launched its Office Of The Citizen (OOTC) campaign in Nigeria and is currently executing its 2023 Elections:Matters Arising awareness campaign Initiative. 

Community Life Project (CLP) (aka ReclaimNaija) (www.communitylifeproject.org) is a national non-profit organisation challenging inequality and advancing social justice by empowering marginalised grassroots communities.

Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC) (www.wardcnigeria.org) is a feminist human rights organisation supporting gender justice and good governance.

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