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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained that it is unable to expunge the names of dead persons from the voter register due to the absence of reliable data of births and deaths to rely on in expunging the names of such persons in Nigeria.
Speaking in an interview on Friday, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, explained that the commission could not remove names arbitrarily. He, therefore, asked Nigerians to give the commission all the support it needs in cleaning up the register.
Okoye said, ‘The commission displays the voter register for claims and objections but few Nigerians pay attention to the process. Nigerians must assist the commission to clean up the voter register by coming forward to point out deceased individuals or those that are not supposed to be in the voter register.
‘Secondly, the country does not have reliable data of births and deaths and the commission cannot engage in arbitrary removal of the names of individuals it suspects are deceased.
‘Our new software currently in use has been robust and has been detecting multiple registrants. We as a people and as a country must not condone and or connive in community aided and politically motivated under age registration. This commission is resolved and determined to prosecute all electoral infractions.’
Confronted by the compelling need to sanitise the register, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had on September 24 asked the National Population Commission to periodically provide the commission with the data of deceased persons to update the voter register.
Yakubu had in 2018 made a similar request when he visited the then Chairman of the NPC, Mr Eze Duruijeoma, saying the cleanup was crucial for the 2019 elections.
But speaking in September when the Chairman of the NPC, Isa Kwarra, visited him at the INEC headquarters, Mahmood stated, ‘At present, technology cannot help us to identify and remove dead persons from the voter register.
‘Therefore, I wish to once more appeal to the chairman of the NPC, in your capacity as the registrar of births and deaths in Nigeria, to periodically avail us of the data of deceased Nigerians.
‘This is important so that we can use the official information from your commission to further clean up the voter register. Perhaps, you may wish to start by providing us with the list of prominent Nigerians who have passed on, civil and public servants compiled from the official records of government ministries, departments and agencies and other Nigerians from hospital and funeral records across the country.’
Meanwhile, there are indications that dead persons might continue to be in the voter register. Africa Today News, New York understands that the National Population Commission (NPC) does not have an updated register of deaths it could avail INEC with.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK