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Nigerian group calls for extension as up to 11M fail to complete biometric voter registration

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Nigerian group calls for extension as up to 11M fail to complete biometric voter registration
 

Nigeria’s National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is facing heat from civil society groups to extend once more the deadline for the biometric voter registration exercise.

According to the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of 80 civil society organizations, about 11 million potential voters, who had pre-enrolled online, were unable to submit their biometrics as of the 31 July 2022 deadline, reports Punch.

Other publications such as the Foundation for Investigative Journalism put the number at over seven million, citing statistics from INEC’s website.

INEC, recall, was forced by a court to extend the deadline from 30 June 30 to 31 July, 2022 after a suit was filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) earlier in June.

Now, the election watchdog says it is not ready for any further extension of the biometric voter registration exercise, but the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room says failure to do so would be tantamount to disenfranchising a huge number of citizens who are eager to participate in next year’s general elections in Africa’s most populous country.

“The Nigeria Civil Society is advocating and appealing to INEC to reopen the CVR [continuous voter registration] because the rush will tell you that a lot more people want to register,” the convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Ene Obi, is quoted as saying by Punch.

“There are reports of people queuing up for a day to a whole week and still end up not getting registered. We can make this less stressful in terms of registration processes…More than 11 million applicants who completed their forms online were unable to complete their registration. That means you are losing 11 million electorate,”

Punch notes that it interviewed many stranded Nigerians who said they completed the pre-registration phase but were unable to finish with the biometrics capture.

INEC registers 96 million voters

Meanwhile, figures released by INEC show the election management body registered a total of 12.2 million new voters since the continuous biometric voter registration exercise kicked off in June last year.

This brings the total number of names on the INEC’s voter registration database to 96.2 million, up from 84 million, writes Punch in a different report.

According to the figures, the North West geopolitical zone comes on top with the highest number of voters with 22.6 million; the South West follows with 18.3 million; the South South is third with 15.2 million; the fourth is the North Central geopolitical zone with 14.1 million voters; the North East with 12.8 million and the South East comes last with 11.4, understandably because it is the smallest of the six geopolitical zones.

In Nigeria, factors such as the distribution of voters are crucial in the election of the President.

When it comes to states, Lagos tops the voter figures with 7.1 million potential voters per INEC statistics, while the states of Kano, Kaduna, Rivers and Katsina follow in that order.

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