By our reporter| Following the backlash that has trailed the poor handling of the recently concluded voter registration exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday dismissed allegations that deliberately denied many Nigerians the opportunity to complete their online voter pre-registration.
The electoral umpire had at the end of the continuous voter registration (CVR) on July 31, said the number of persons who completed their registration is 12,298,944.
According to the commission, of this figure, 8,854,566 were individuals who did their registration at physical centres, while 3,444,378 started their registration online and completed the process at a physical centre.
INEC, in August further disclosed that over seven million persons failed to complete the registration process at physical centres.
The handling of the process did not particularly go down well with many Nigerians. Labour party chieftain, Prof Pat Utomi and other panelists on Arise Television programme over the weekend were irked by INEC’s inability to particularly complete the online registration of applicants.
But in a statement on Monday, Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner, information and voter education committee, explained why the seven million persons were not captured in the record of completed voter registrations.
“To set the record straight, Nigerians may recall that on 28th June 2021, the Commission introduced the online pre-registration of voters. By doing so, citizens were given the opportunity to commence the registration online and then book for an appointment at their convenience to complete the physical Biometric Capture at designated centres,” the statement reads.
“It was a novel idea leveraging on technology to ease the registration process. This was in addition to the walk-in option at physical centres, where Nigerians can commence and complete their registration simultaneously without going through the online pre-registration procedure.
“In the interest of transparency, the Commission provided weekly statistical updates on the exercise.
“For the online pre-registration, a total 10,487,972 commenced the process. However, by the deadline of the exercise, 3,444,378 Nigerians completed their pre-registration physically at the designated centres in line with the Commission’s policy. Some 7,043,594 applicants did not complete the registration.
“Again, the Commission made the information public. This is what some people are now using to say that they were denied the opportunity when in reality they failed to either complete the online enrolment or appear physically at the designated centres to complete the process.
“A breakdown of the 7,043,594 incomplete online pre-registrations is as follows: 4,161,775 citizens attempted but either did not complete online pre-registration or abandoned it and went for the physical registration instead; 2,881,819 registrants completed the online pre-registration but did not show up to complete the physical Biometric Capture at designated centres before the deadline.
“Therefore, it is clear that no Nigerians were deliberately denied the opportunity to complete their online pre-registration.
“We appeal citizens to always adhere to timelines as against the endless agitation for eleventh hour extension of set deadlines.”