The House of Representatives has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), to extend the voter registration which is scheduled to end on June 30 by 60 days(2 months) to enable as many Nigerians as possible to register.
This was after the adoption of a motion by Hon. Benjamin Kalu, representing APC-Abia, during plenary on Wednesday in Abuja.
Hon. Kalu said that the decision to suspend the voters’ registration exercise was in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, which required INEC to suspend voters’ registration at least 60 days (2months) before an election.
He said that in April, INEC declared that about 42 per cent of the voter registrations recorded since the commencement of CVR on 28 June, 2021, were invalid with about 20 million unclaimed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
Mr Kalu also said that the large number of unregistered eligible voters, willing to be registered as evidenced by crowd seen at various registration centres, had resulted in congestion.
He expressed concern due to reports of shortages of voter registration machines, inadequate manpower and personnel at registration centres.
According to him, this may lead to frustration among prospective registrants, and in some cases, unrest at some registration centres.
He said that the right to vote was critically important to the health and legitimacy of the country’s democracy, as well as electoral integrity.
Mr Kalu stated that if nothing was done to improve the shortage of voter registration equipment, and extend the deadline for voters registration, millions of Nigerians would be disenfranchised, which would jeopardise the integrity of the 2023 general elections.
The house, therefore mandated the Committee on Electoral Matters to engage INEC in order to examine and proffer solutions to the shortage of registration machines and manpower.
He added that INEC should also deploy an additional 30 voters registration machines in each local government area, train and deploy ad-hoc staff to improve the shortage of manpower at registration centres.
He added that security should also be provided for the ad hoc staff and report back within two (2) weeks.