Group urges Nigerian govt to review ID requirements for voter verification
A civil society organization working in the area of democracy and human rights, Yiaga Africa, has called for a legislative amendment in Nigeria which will allow the use of identity credentials such as a national ID card, a passport and a driver’s licence for voter verification at the polling station.
The organization made the call in its comprehensive report on the 2023 general elections in Nigeria released in the capital Abuja recently.
The only ID currently accepted for voter verification in Nigeria is the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), a biometric card issued to citizens after they enroll in the electoral register. There were over 93 million Nigerians on the voter registry when elections were held earlier this year.
Speaking at the unveiling of the report, the Yiaga Africa Board Chairman Hussaini Abdu said expanding the scope of ID credentials used for voter verification will address some of the challenges currently faced with issuing PVCs.
There have been reports of difficulties in the collection of PVCs in the past, and Yiaga Africa is now calling for their complete scrapping.
The group says it is time for the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to “abolish the use of PVCs and adopt the use of other legally acceptable means of identification for voter verification such as driver’s license, international passport, and national identity card.”
“The right to vote requires additional legal and administrative protection as voter disenfranchisement and suppression intensify in each electoral cycle,” the report notes.
Another proposal contained in the report is for INEC to consider drawing up the voter’s registry from the national identity database run by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). This, the entity says, will ensure greater transparency and efficiency in the management of the voter’s roll, and will also cut cost.
While Yiaga Africa appreciates the introduction of new technologies such as the BVAS into the electoral process in Nigeria, it posits that technology is no silver bullet. It insists that for the elections to be truly transparent, INEC must ensure high integrity for any technology deployed.
“The legal framework places no statutory obligation on INEC to subject its electoral technologies to testing and verification. Standard practice requires institutions deploying electoral technologies to test and verify equipment, software and tools within a reasonable time before deployment for election,” the report says.
There were reported hitches with the BVAS during the general elections in February and March.
The report also proposes many other administrative and legislative changes to INEC in order to ensure a more streamlined and credible electoral process in the country.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to make the electoral process more inclusive, INEC said recently that it is considering setting up voter registration points in camps hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as in the communities hosting them, Punch reports.
The INEC Commissioner in charge of Outreach and Partnerships, Kunle Ajayi, made the announcement during a recent training workshop in Abuja, supported by the European Union to increase the participation of forcibly displaced persons in Nigeria’s electoral process.
“As a starting point, we advocate the establishment of accessible and well-organized voter registration centers in the IDP camps and host communities. This will allow the IDPs to easily register as voters and exercise their right to vote without undue burdens,” Ajayi is quoted by Punch as saying.