THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, raised the alarm that some politicians have been buying up Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, and financially inducing unsuspecting voters to harvest their Voter Identification Numbers ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The revelation by INEC, however, elicited angry reactions from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Labour Party, LP, and regional bodies such as the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum, MBF.
Raising the alarm during the launch of #YourVoteMatters project by an election observer group, NESSACTION, in Abuja, the National Commissioner overseeing the FCT, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau states, Mohammed Haruna, disclosed that two people were recently convicted for illegal possession of PVCs in Sokoto and Kano states.
The project, supported by the International Foundation for Electoral System, IFES, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, FCDO, seeks to assist INEC in increasing the number of PVCs collected ahead of the 2023 general elections as well as the voters mobilised on Election Day.
Speaking, the INEC National Commissioner, said: “We are aware some politicians are more or less buying the PVCs. If you collect the PVC and then you sell it out or allow someone else to have it, you are aiding illegal possession of the PVC which is an offence in our Electoral Act.
“Some of you are aware that only recently, INEC managed to convict two people, who were found guilty of illegal possession of PVCs in Kano and Sokoto. So, I urge people to connect their PVCs, keep it safe, and make sure that on Election Day, you go out there and cast your votes because, of course, without your PVC you cannot vote.”
In her remarks, Executive Director of NESSACTION, Ambassador Eniola Cole, explained that the project slated for implementation in the FCT, Nasarawa, and Plateau states, will provide logistics that will generate incentives in communities with low PVC collection rates.
Cole said: “We implore the general public to take advantage of the timeframe set by INEC for PVC collection at the Commission’s LGA offices nationwide from December 12, 2022 to January 5, 2023, and at the 8809 Registration Areas from January 6-22, 2023 including Saturdays and Sundays.
“The public can, through dedicated channels, inform us of their location to receive support including the PVC collection buses and community outreach activities to be conducted at the local level in each state by our community mobilisation officers.”