Nigeria resumes biometric voter registration, encourages online participation

smartphone biometric identity and document verification

Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is continuing with the biometric voter enrollment process which it suspended in August 2018 because of the general elections of 2019, and has launched an online portal via which registration can now be easily done, according to INEC News.

The exercise, which begins this June 28 and will be online only, will end in August 2022, just a few months before the 2023 general elections in Africa’s most populous country. However, physical registration with biometrics enrollment is scheduled to begin on July 19 at all INEC offices at State and Local Government level, INEC News adds.

At a recent ceremony to announce the start of the exercise, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu said new machines known as INEC Voter Registration Devices (IVED) and registration software have been acquired and a total of 5,346 staff have been mobilized nationwide.

Yakubu disclosed that the exercise specifically concerns citizens who have attained the age of 18 and who have previously never enrolled on the electoral register. However, it will be allowed for those who have registered before but want to replace their damaged or defaced Permanent Voter Card (PVC).

In a new development, the INEC boss said an online portal has been put up to enable online registrations and bookings for biometric capture at State or Local Government INEC accreditation centers. He said he hoped the online method will help reduce overcrowding at registration centres given the COVID-19 situation and then give registrants a good experience.

“The portal will go live in the early hours of Monday 28th June 2021. However, I must quickly reiterate that the online registration is a public service and therefore free of charge,” Yakubu explained. “There is no INEC-approved cybercafe, no online registration centre and no scratch card to be purchased for the exercise. All you need is a device, including your mobile phones that can connect to the internet. Citizens can complete the online pre-registration anywhere and at any time they choose. Just follow the simple but detailed step-by-step procedure on the portal and contact the INEC Help Desk where necessary. The details are on our website.”

For those who cannot carry out online registration for one reason or the other, Yakubu said there is a solution for them.

“I wish to assure you that in addition to the online registration portal, there will be some 2,673 centres where citizens can register physically nationwide,” he said. “Furthermore, the exercise will be carried out continuously over a period of at least one year thereby providing enough time for the Commission to reach all the nooks and crannies of the country. No eligible Nigerian will be disenfranchised.”

INEC recently disclosed that it had expunged 16.5 million duplicated names from the voter roll between 2011 and 2019 thanks to its biometric system.

Nigeria has Presidential and National Assembly elections all slated for February 23, 2023.

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