Stakeholders in Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement called on the Independent National Election Commission on Friday to liaise with the Nigerian Universities Commission to ensure there are no classes or exams the week before the election to avoid deprivation. of student rights.
The organizations filed the demands during a press conference in Abuja at the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development, ConnectHub.
According to them, the INEC should extend the collection of Permanent Voter Credentials to guarantee that all the people whose credentials were not found are reprinted.
Whenever possible, they recommended that students be at home, while there should be no lectures or exams.
Interested parties include; Enough is Enough Nigeria, #FixPolitics, Kimpact Development Initiative, Reclaim Naija, Community Life Project, Electoral College Nigeria, Women Advocates and Research Development Center, and Yiaga Africa.
The text of the event titled, ‘Non-print PVC disenfranchisement concerns and university students’, was jointly read to journalists by Director of Programs at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu and EiE Executive Director, Yemi Adamolekun.
While INEC has said that PVC collection would end this Sunday, January 29 at 5pm, CSOs said voter reporting at different collection centers across the country revealed that some validly registered voters were reported by officials. of the commission that their PVCs were not available. .
Some others, they said, were asked to return a day after the deadline or after the election to pick up their PVCs.
The CSOs said: “This is a violation of the Electoral Act 2022 which obliges INEC in Section 16(1) to design, print and issue voter cards to voters whose names appear on the voter register. The INEC also made a commitment and promised that all those registered and, in its database, will have their PVC provided and available for collection.
“The emphasis on a collection deadline is an indirect disenfranchisement of validly registered voters whose PVCs are unavailable due to INEC administrative lapses. Denying these voters their right to vote because of a failure by INEC is unacceptable. To be clear, this is not just a problem in Lagos.
“Given the reported challenges, we ask INEC to do the following: let Nigerians know if and when all cards for registered voters will be available for collection, extend PVC collection to ensure all people whose cards were not found to be reprinted. , and there is a clear process for them to collect the cards.
“Work with the Nigerian Universities Commission to ensure there are no classes or exams the week before the election so students can go home to vote, communicate with newly registered voters, especially students, when PVCs are ready and create a dedicated desk for civil society organizations. media and citizens to escalate observed issues for rapid resolution.
“The engine to drive this process is the clear and proactive exchange of information from INEC. Expectations are high for this election and INEC cannot be seen as deliberately or inadvertently disenfranchising certain groups of people.
“Citizens have provided reports from Abuja, Rivers, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ondo, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Borno, Sokoto, Ogun, Kano and Kwara. We also note the concern of students who have enrolled at home while colleges have been closed for more than eight months.
“According to INEC, 40 percent of the 9,518,188 new registered voters are students. If they enrolled at home and are now at school, INEC must ensure that they can withdraw their cards as cheaply as possible.”