Political violence in Nigeria destroys biometric voter IDs; government rushing replacements
Almost 70,000 permanent voter ID cards were destroyed this week when a government office in Nigeria was set ablaze.
In what almost certainly was an act of political violence intended to suppress turnout in the upcoming national elections, a small Ogun state government office holding a number of balloting-related supplies was largely demolished in the fire, according to the Nigerian Tribune.
There are reports of a similar attack in an Osun state government office. It is not immediately known if the Osun building also held voter ID cards or other biometric voting supplies.
In Ogun, 65,699 voter IDs were burned, reportedly when multiple suspects threw gasoline-soaked loaves of bread onto the building’s roof.
The government has said the cards, which are picked up by would-be voters before they cast their vote, will be replaced in time for the general election early next year.
Nigeria’s Permanent Voters Card (PVC) stores biometric data on a chip for voter verification. The Independent National Electoral Commission is being taken to court to allow biometric voter verification at the polls for those who have registered but not yet received their cards. The question takes on new import with the latest developments.
Also destroyed were 9904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, eight generators and 57 election bags.
Physical attacks on supporters of some politicians are increasing, reports the Tribune, as are hate speech and incendiary comments.
Nigeria has a history of political violence, but it also has demonstrated a commitment to digital IDs.