COMMUNITY INITIATIVE FOR ENHANCED PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT (CIEPD) IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FOUNDATION FOR PARTNERSHIP IN THE NIGER DELTA (PIND) Organizes a MULTI STAKEHOLDERS FORUM ON PEACEFUL ELECTIONS. At Grand Tokyu Hotel, Stadium Road, Port Harcourt. Wednesday 8th March, 2023.
The forum started at about 4:00pm, introduction of Dignitaries. Remark from the security agencies present, starting with a Goodwill message from Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Rivers State Command-DCC Dike; he said, Safety and Protection of lives is the mandate of the Security Personnel, to ensure a violent free election. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (Mamman Joseph) representing the Commissioner of Police Rivers State. He emphasized that, Rivers State was violence free compared to other states, during the Presidential Election. He advised that, Electorates should talk to their friends and families at home, to be calm. Ensure, you cast your vote peacefully.
Nathaniel Akpos (State Coordinator, Transition Monitoring Group): Supports CIEPD in ensuring peaceful and non-violent Election in the fourth coming Gubernatorial Election. Stakeholders present spoke on Peaceful and Non-violent Election. They all agreed; “We are one accord”.
Comrade Enefa Georgewill (Chairman, Rivers State Civil Society Organization), he emphasized that there is need to sign a Peaceful Accord for Non-violent Election.
PIND Rep: The central objective of Peace Programme is to achieve peace across the region through peace Actors efforts. If Election emerging conflicts are not managed, it could escalate, so with the participation of Community Influencers, it has been helpful.
The Moderator, reiterate that “Whatever we must do to avoid violence, we have to do”.
CIEPD Programme Manager, he said, CIEPD focus is on Peace building and conflict resolution. CIEPD introduced “Conflict Watch Centres”. Since 2015 to present, CIEPD have been able to track elections (three circles of election) in Nigeria. On Saturday, 25th February, 2023, CIEPD in collaboration with PIND deployed 23 Community Stakeholders Network members and 149 Conflict Trackers to monitor the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in 8 LGAs of Rivers State that are high risk electoral violence areas. Their specific roles are to monitor and report conflict indicators and triggers to the CIEPD Situation Room which immediately report to relevant stakeholders for prompt intervention and resolution. The Situation Room was opened on the 24th of February,2023 at 4:00pm. Personnel in the Situation Room includes the following: Egondu Ezinwoke-Ogbalor (Lead), Everest Nwankwo, Courage Nsirimovu, Anthony Abeh and Olorunsola Testimony.
The All Progressive Congress APC House of Assembly Candidate (Prof. Chuku); In his words, he said; this is the worse election filled with fraud. Though, he is an APC faithful, but Labour Party won the Election in his LGA, but at the end of the day, it was massively rigged at the Collation Centre. He emphasized, until people’s voice and choice is respected and counted, there is nothing like Free and Fair Election. If the people in Government want to get power by all means, then, there’sa big problem.
Egondu Ezinwoke-Ogbalor (CIEPD), appreciates the Rep of the APC for honouring the invitation to be present. She equally said, after the Gubernatorial Election and State House of Assembly Elections, there will be a debriefing exercise. The Peace Accord document will be signed by all Candidates, however she read through the document to the hearing of everyone. She used the opportunity to celebrate women and mark International Women’s Day.
Closing, she thanked everyone for coming. The forum ended at about pass 6:00pm and refreshment where served.
The Incident Centre for Election Atrocities (ICEA) commends Nigerians for their show of patriotism and courage demonstrated through their turnout and orderly conduct at the polls on February 25, 2023. Despite attempts at voter suppression through violence and ballot snatching by unscrupulous elements, Nigerians defied the odds and came out in significant numbers to exercise their franchise even in areas that were widely acknowledged as flash points.
Below is a summary of our preliminary findings across the country.
Logistics and Opening of Polls
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) was clearly logistically ill-prepared for the elections. While most voters had arrived at their polling units as early as 6:00am, a significant number of INEC officers and ad-hoc staff of the Commission did not arrive at their assigned polling units till about 10:30am and some, even later. Consequently, voting did not commence at most of such polling units till 11:30am, as against the stipulated commencement at 8.30am. In some instances, they claimed to have arrived with the wrong materials or insufficient ballot sheets, thereby impacting the ability of registered voters to commence voting.
The late arrival of election officers and materials at the majority of the polling units resulted in polls closing very late at these units. For instance, some of the polling units in Abuja particularly along the Airport Road axis voted well into midnight while at a few other polling units, voting took place all through the night into the early hours of February 26, 2023.
Voting Process and Functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS)
We noted a high level of rowdiness that could have been prevented at a number of the polling units with large numbers of voters, and where accreditation and voting had commenced late. We also noted that the election officers and assigned security personnel did not possess the requisite orientation to manage the crowds effectively. In these stressful circumstances, several disabled persons, elderly, and sick people were disenfranchised.
We noted that the accreditation process was smooth at most polling units and over 90% of voters were successfully accredited without significant challenges. We are however very concerned, about the failure to upload the election results using the BVAS after the voting exercise in major locations including the FCT and Lagos. This failure casts a strong shadow on the transparency of the elections and gave wiggle room for manipulation. Worse still evidence has emerged of the manipulation of some result sheets by unscrupulous INEC officials, and in some instances, aided by security officials.
Violence, Voter Suppression and Attacks on Election Observers
The 2023 general elections just like previous elections was marred by violence, before and on election day. We documented at least 10 deaths in Edo, Taraba, Rivers, Gombe, Abia and Kogi states on election day. At least 7 persons including 3 ad-hoc staff of INEC were abducted on election day in Taraba and Kaduna states.
There were also incidents of documented several premeditated attacks on several polling units and voters, and also the destruction of voting materials including ballot boxes and papers, especially in parts of Lagos and Edo states.
There were several documented incidents of open threats of violence directed at voters at polling units. Particularly directed at those who fail to vote for a particular political party and directing them to exit the polling units. In some areas, voters who were suspected to support particular political parties or from certain ethnic groups were denied access to the polling unit.
Our preliminary findings show that Lagos, Kogi and Edo states recorded the highest levels of voting disruptions that were occasioned by violence. There were also cases of attacks on election observers at certain polling units where they attempted to take footage of the violence. Dayo Aiyetan, the Executive Director of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) was attacked at the Agwan Fulani Town Hall, Gwagwalada town, FCT while he was covering the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Six other journalists, Akam James, Daily Post’s State Correspondent, Princewill Sede, the Publisher of Upfront News Magazine, Jeany Metta, the Managing Editor Upfront News Magazine, Joe Kunde Reporter of TVC and the Cameraman, Mr Miebi Bina were assaulted and chased away when thugs attacked the Ebelebiri community Ward 05 unit 19 in Bayelsa state on the 25th of February 2023. Adebola Ajayi, a Lagos metro beat reporter at the Peoples Gazette was manhandled and the phone temporarily confiscated for attempting to take footage when thugs attacked a polling unit in the Oshodi area of Lagos state.
A major road leading to the community of the PDP senatorial candidate for Kogi Central, Natasha Akpoti, was destroyed just a few hours before the commencement of the presidential and parliamentary elections, cutting it off from the rest of the state and making it inaccessible even to election officers. Curiously, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello admitted to destroying the major road but claimed it was to prevent terrorists from gaining access. Youths from the areas and other citizens went ahead to fill up the wide gully dug in the middle of the road with sand to enable elections officers and others on election duty to gain access to the area.
A few hours before the commencement of the elections, authorities particularly the Police and EFCC reported arrests of certain individuals caught with a large sum of money suspected to be deployed on election day for vote buying. On election day, there were further arrests of persons who attempted to buy votes, particularly in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano. The ICEA field monitors also documented cases of vote buying, particularly in Lagos, Kogi and Edo states. In summary, Dr. Cletus Tyokyaa, the Director-General of the PDP governorship campaign council in Benue who curiously is also a lecturer with the Sarwuan Tarka University (formerly known as the University of Agriculture), Makurdi, was arrested by EFCC at the RCM Polling Unit in Daudu, Guma Local Government Area of Benue state with the sum of N306,700 in various denominations stashed in his car. The EFCC also arrested a man for alleged vote buying with N194,000 at Gidan Zakka polling unit, Goron Dutse area of Kano Municipal Local Government, Kano State. The Kano office of the EFCC further reported the arrest of 10 suspects at Kofar Danagundi and Kwalli Primary School in Municipal Local Government Area of the state for attempting to share items including bags of rice and semovita to influence voters during the elections. A party agent buying votes through bank transfers was also arrested in Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory, while two persons, Stanley Nsemo and Eno Amponsah were arrested in Calabar, Cross River State with the sum of $450 (Four Hundred and Fifty United States Dollars) and N156, 800 on suspicion of alleged votes buying. Also, Maryam Mamman Alhaji, with 18 voter cards on her was intercepted in a sting operation by the EFCC at Badarwa/Malali Ward 01 and 08, Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Conduct of Law Enforcement
The ICEA field monitors reported a high level of civility displayed by law enforcement at the polling unit. However, security agents failed in most instances to prevent incidents of voter suppression and destruction of voting materials on their watch. They also failed to assist overwhelmed election officials with crowd control.
The Incident Centre for Election Atrocities is concerned about the high incidents of thuggery characterized in certain regions, particularly South-West, North- Central and South-South of the country. The audacity with which these crimes were committed under the watchful eyes of law enforcement is of greater concern. The Centre wishes to emphasize as it has done in previous communications that the 2023 Nigerian general elections represent a critical moment for the future of the country and West Africa as a whole.
As the collation and announcement of results are underway, ICEA calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain political neutrality in the election process. We also call on the Inspector General of Police to ensure the arrest and prosecution of all persons indicted in the political violence and manipulation recorded, including its personnel who were compromised and deliberately looked the other way while voters were being attacked and intimidated at the polls.
Signed on Behalf of the Incident Centre for Election Atrocities (ICEA)
Head of Secretariat, ICEA and Executive Director, Global Rights
This report documents incidents of hate speech, malicious
propagation of fake news, violence and other forms of
elections-related atrocities for the month of January 2023.
The month of January was marred by an increased election-related atrocities, including politically-motivated abductions and killings of candidates and politically exposed individuals, particularly in the Southeast region. Facilities belonging to INEC and Police were also attacked and vandalized by gunmen. The growing trend of violent crimes ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria is eroding the civic space and represents the largest threat to the peaceful conduct of the elections. Some of the political actors are blaming these incidents on their political opponents while security agencies are attributing the carnage against INEC and some politicians in the southeast to separatist groups such as IPOB. Nonetheless, these attacks have the tendency to significantly impact the election process and could disrupt election activities both during and after the 2023 general elections.
War of Words
As the 2023 elections approach, political tensions are rising and leading to verbal confrontations and violence. The spokespersons of the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were engaged in a heated exchange, and their followers and supporters took the verbal war to social media.
There were accusations and counter-accusations between the Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Magnus Abe and the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesome Wike.
Furthermore, supporters of two political leaders, Hon Ferdinard Dozie Nwankwo of APGA and Senator Uche Ekwunife of PDP, were involved in a physical altercation on January 7, 2023, which highlights how the heated language of the political elites is inciting violence between their supporters.
In the southeast region, a group of ten gunmen destroyed campaign materials and announced that there would be no election in Biafra land at Orie Mbah Market Akpugo, Nkanu West LGA, Enugu State, on January 28, 2023. This incident is causing fear among citizens who may have to risk their lives to participate in the election.
Election Atrocities Impact on Nigeria ‘s0 Civic Space
The growing election violence and hate speech in the weeks leading up to the elections is further shrinking the civic space in Nigeria. Desperate politicians are suppressing opposing voices, restricting the rights to freedom of association and expression. This is causing a further decline in trust in the Nigerian democratic process and could result in a larger number of citizens being disenfranchised due to fear of violence.
Politicians in some parts of the country have resorted to the use of inflammatory hate speech in their campaigns. One such instance was the derogatory remarks made by the current Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly during a campaign at Ohokobe Ibeku Umuahia North, Abia state where he referred to the candidate of the Labour Party as a son of nobody who could be easily dealt with by his supporters. A few days later, the convoy of the Labour Party candidate was attacked.
The APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, claimed the Labour Party Presidential Candidate is the Biblical Peter that denied Jesus Christ three times before the cock crowed. The statement was made at the APC Presidential Campaign rally at Awka, Anambra state on January 31, 2023. A day earlier, in his campaigns in Akwa Ibom, Tinubu had called out the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel for supporting the Presidential candidate of his party, the PDP, and referred to him as “that boy”. Such statements have the potential of instigating reprisals and uncontrolled use of hate speech.
A political rally in Ahiaba primary school field, Abia State was disrupted on January 13, 2023 after the Abia State Governor and a member of the State House of Assembly representing Obingwa West made offensive remarks about a current Senator. In response, Youths from the community massed and caused destruction, leading to police shooting.
Again, on January 30, 2023, in Enugu State, a group of youths invited to Arthur Eze residence for a rally, turned hostile and insulted the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), burning the campaign materials given to them.
Additionally, there have been instances of disinformation and fake news spreading, including a reported but unverified attack on a man wearing the Labour Party campaign shirt and claims of a doctored video.
While slanderous comments, hate speech, politically motivated violence and the use of thugs are tactics that have been employed by Nigerian politicians in past elections to intimidate and harass voters and political opponents, the use of these antics has been magnified by the aid of social media where politicians and their sympathizers generate and share fake news and hate speech against opponents and their supporters at little to no cost.
The violence against INEC resources, personnel and facilities continued in January 2023, with the arson attack on INEC facilities in Enugu South LGA, Enugu State, on January 15th. In addition to the attack on the INEC facility, there were two cases of destruction of Police stations. They include:
The bombing of Afor Atta Divisional Police Headquarters in the Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State on January 2, 2023, resulting in the complete destruction of the Police Station.
The attack on the Ndiegoro Police Station in Abia state on January 17, 2023, resulting in the death of one Police Inspector.
The attack on the Oguta Police Station, Oguta LGA in Imo state on January 21, 2023, resulting in the death of one Police Officer.
Other security personnel were also not spared in these politically motivated attacks in the month of January. These include:
The abduction of the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Pankshin Division, Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State on January 12, 2023.
The killing of one female Police Officer attached to the highway patrol team of the Imo State Police Command on January 25, 2023, in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo state.
The killing of two soldiers at the military checkpoint at Idodo in Enugu state on January 28, 2023.
The killing of three Police Officers at Ebonyi State border checkpoint along the Enugu/Abakaliki highway on January 28, 2023.
The incessant attacks on police formations by gunmen wielding assault rifles pose a threat to a peaceful election in the country.
Attacks on Politicians and other Politically Exposed Persons
The month of January saw numerous attacks on politically exposed individuals, with at least 15 abductions (including 1 Police Officer) and at least 30 killings (including 11 security personnel) excluding security agents. There were also at least 6 attacks at political campaign rallies.
A bomb hit the convoy of a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim on January 2, causing the death of three police officers and a paramilitary official.
on January 8, 2023, Hon. Sunkanmi Obisesan, the Chief of Staff to the Osun State Speaker was attacked by gunmen in Ifofin, Ilesa
The same January 8, gunmen attacked the APC Presidential Campaign office in Ilesa, Osun.
A former Edo State House of Assembly member, Festus Edughele was abducted in Edo State on January 9, 2023.
Gunmen bombed Ihiala Local Government Headquarters in Anambra State which housed the administrative block of the council, INEC office, Health Office department, NYSC, Education department and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Office on January 12, 2023 resulting in the death of three people.
Gunmen attacked the residence of the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in Imo State on January 14, 2023, killing four people.
A wife and 6 children of the District Head of Mutumbiyu, Sani Muhammad, a second-class chief in Jalingo, Taraba state were abducted at their home on January 19, 2023.
Mr. Sale Yakubu, a Councilor in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State was killed on January 19, 2023, by a yet-to-be-identified gunman.
A Catholic Priest, the Catechist of St. Monica Catholic Church, Ikulu-Pari, Kefas Ishaya in Chawai Chiefdom of Kauru, Kaduna was abducted on January 19, 2023, in an attempted attack on Rev Fr Joseph Shekari, who was not in his residence at the time of the attack.
There was a twin explosion that rocked the campaign rally of the APC at the Rumuwoji Playground in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on January 19, 2023.
One person was killed and many others injured when gunmen invaded a rally organized by the PDP at Ward 7 Ewu community in Esan Central LGA, Edo on January 20, 2023.
A Plateau State First class traditional ruler, the Agwom Izere, His Royal Highness Dr. Isaac Azi Wakili was abducted when heavily armed gunmen reportedly invaded his Palace situated in the Shere District of Jos East on January 20, 2023.
The Sole Administrator of Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, Mr Christopher Ohizu was abducted in his residence on January 20, 2023, and subsequently beheaded on January 22, 2023, after his abductors allegedly collected N6 million ransom.
The campaign team of the Presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi was attacked on his way to the airport in Katsina state after a rally at Muhammad Dikko Stadium on January 23, 2023.
Gunmen attacked and killed Christian Ihim, the Okwe Ward Chairman and member of APC in Okwe, a community in Onuimo Local Government of Imo State and abducted five other chieftains of APC in the community on January 23, 2023.
Thugs attacked members of the APC, in Kaura Namoda LGA, Zamfara State destroying vehicles and motorcycles on January 23, 2023.
Lagos State PDP Deputy Governorship Candidate, Funke Akindele was harassed and chased out of the Ketu Fruit Market in Lagos State on January 24, 2023.
Akilu Kuta, the Chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area together with the Niger State APC Assistant Youth Leader, Suleiman Galkogo were attacked during a raid on Kuta town by alleged bandits on January 24, 2023. Three persons were abducted during that incident.
One person was killed and others injured as gunmen attacked the campaign rally of the People’s Democratic Party in Rivers State on January 24, 2023.
The District Head of Chawai in Kauru Local Government of Kaduna State, Chief Joshua Ahmadu was abducted by gunmen who invaded his house at Zambina on January 25, 2023.
Thugs and hoodlums attacked the convoy of the PDP Deputy Governorship Candidate of Ogun State, Adekunle Akinlade, in Ogun State on January 26, 2023.
Three people were killed during an attack involving the convoy of Abdul-Azeez Adediran (Jandor), a governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State in the Coker area of Aguda, Surulere Local Government Area of the state on January 27, 2023.
Gunmen attacked the constituency office of the member representing Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State and the spokesperson of the House of Representatives who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs. Barr. Benjamin Kalu on January 27, 2023.
Political thugs raided and set fire to the residence of the APC National Assembly candidate for Ikwerre-Emuoha Federal Constituency, Ezemonye Ezekiel-Amadi in Omerelu, Ikwerre LGA, Rivers State on January 28, 2023.
At least 11 people were injured as thugs disrupted the APC rally at a primary school field in Onicha Ohaozara Local Government in Ebonyi State, on January 28, 2023.
The Umuogudu Akpu Ngbo office of Ebubeagu Security was attacked by heavily armed men on January 30, 2023, leaving many of the security agents with bullet wounds while the office, vehicles and motorcycle were set ablaze.
The APC Campaign Director in Opobo/Nkoro, Opobo Local Government Area in River State was abducted at the venue of a scheduled rally on January 31, 2023.
The continued occurrence of these attacks without intervention is a cause for concern as it affects the security situation during the elections. The fear of further attacks and dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the security situation could trigger a higher voter apathy.
Despite being largely under-reported, the political violence in the Southeast and other parts of the country is a cause for concern. Though the southeast region is the smallest in land mass, it is home to a part of the citizenry that has felt disconnected, left out and maltreated by successive administrations in Nigeria since the civil war. This has led to a general lack of engagement in past elections.
In Conclusion, the political violence in Nigeria, particularly in the southeast, is a cause for concern and is largely under-reported. The Pre-election incidents, such as the destruction of INEC facilities, are likely deliberate attempts by desperate politicians to instil fear and disrupt the elections. The government needs to take steps to address the increasing wave of insecurity, protect the public and ensure the integrity of the 2023 general elections.
Incident Centre for Election Atrocities (#ICEA): +234911 302 1303
CONCERNS OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT WITH UNPRINTED PVCS & UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
“You cannot live a normal existence if you have not taken care of a problem that affects your life and affects the lives of others; that is the value you hold which in fact defines your very existence.”
– Wole Soyinka
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards will end this Sunday, January 29th at 5pm.
However, reports from voters in different collection centres across the country revealed that some validly registered voters were informed by the INEC officials that their PVCs were not available; while some others were asked to return on a later day beyond the deadline or after the election to collect their PVCs. This is a breach of the Electoral Act 2022 which mandates INEC in Section 16(1) to design, print and issue voter’s cards to voters whose names appear in the register of voters. INEC also, had further committed to and promised that everyone registered and, in their database, will have their PVC provided and available for collection. The emphasis on a deadline for collection is an indirect disenfranchisement of validly registered voters whose PVCs are not available due to INEC’s administrative lapses. Denying these voters their right to vote due to a failure on the part of INEC is unacceptable.
And to be clear, this is not only a problem in Lagos. Citizens have provided reports from Abuja, Rivers, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ondo, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Borno, Sokoto, Ogun, Kano, & Kwara.
We also note the concern of the students who registered at home while tertiary institutions were shut down for over 8 months. According to INEC, 40% of the 9,518,188 newly registered voters are students. If they registered at home and are now at school, INEC must ensure they can pick up their cards in the least expensive way possible.
Reclaim Naija has received hundreds of calls and texts from its observers across the country about these challenges. With six episodes of Twitter Spaces and three Instagram Lives with different INEC officials; in addition to reports submitted through its www.rsvp.ng Complaints Portal, EiE Nigeria has supported over 10,000 voters through this PVC Collection process.
Given the reported challenges, we ask that INEC do the following:
Inform Nigerians if it is still printing cards and when all the cards for registered voters will be available for collection.
Extend PVC Collection to ensure that everyone whose cards were not found are reprinted, and there is a clear process for them to pick up the cards.
Work with the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to ensure that there are no classes or exams the week before elections so students can go home to vote.
Communicate with newly registered voter’s especially students when the PVCs are ready.
Create a dedicated desk for civil society organisations, media and citizens to escalate the issues being observed for quick resolution.
The engine to drive this process is clear and proactive information sharing from INEC. There are high expectations for this election and INEC can not be seen to be deliberately or inadvertently disenfranchising certain groups of people.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) (www.thecjid.org) is a media innovation think tank founded in 2014 to enable a West African media that advances the values of human rights and democratic accountability. CJID builds and/ incubates innovative media platforms including Premium Times, Dubawa, Leaks.ng, and gosi.app. We also provide thought leadership to deepen the inclusive development discourse and tackle information disorder in the region.
ConnectHub (www.connecthubng.org) is a human rights platform that documents, defends and advocates against police brutality and state violence in Nigeria.
Enough is Enough Nigeria (www.eie.ng) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. EiE’s #RSVP – Register | Select | Vote | Protect is Nigeria’s longest-runing get-out-the-vote campaign. EiE was an integral part of the #OccupyNigeria movement in 2012; co-leads the #OpenNASS campaign and launched the #OfficeOfTheCitizen campaign to mark its 5th anniversary in 2015. It publishes a collection of essays to mark its decade plus of impact in 2022 – Footprints: Past | Present | Future.
#FixPolitics (www.fixpolitics.org) is a citizens-led research-based initiative advocating for structural change of politics and governance in Nigeria and on the African continent. #FixPolitics recently launched its Office Of The Citizen (OOTC) campaign in Nigeria and is currently executing its 2023 Elections:Matters Arising awareness campaign Initiative.
Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) (www.kdi.org.ng) is a youth-focused nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that inspires citizen-led democratic development that is anchored on the principles of participation, data-driven advocacy, promotion of strong democratic institutions, and public policies.
Reclaim Naija (aka Community Life Project – CLP) (www.communitylifeproject.org) is a nation non-profit organisation challenging inequality and advancing social justice by empowering marginalised grassroots communities.
The Electoral College Nigeria (www.electoralcollng.org) is a political literacy institution that takes civic education up another notch. ECN believes political literacy is critical to every sphere of a democracy and has involvement in debates, virtual courses and training for elected and political appointees. ECN has partnerships with CJID on its Politeracy 101 course; with states on LG Chairpersons Training and the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) on debates.
Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC) (www.wardcnigeria.org) is a feminist human rights organisation supporting gender justice and good governance.
Yiaga Africa (www.yiaga.org) is a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement. We focus on in-depth research, providing critical analysis on key democratic and governance issues, crafting practical solutions, training and empowering citizens to lead change in their community.
INEC, Guarantee Citizens’ Participation in #NigeriaDecides 2023 Through the Efficient Distribution of Permanent Voters Cards Across Nigeria
Global Rights calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve citizens’ access to participate in the upcoming general elections by improving the efficiency of logistics for the distribution of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs).
Notwithstanding the fact that we commend INEC for extending the dates for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) both at the Ward level and Local Government Secretariat levels, we are concerned that the logistics for the distribution of the cards have been hampered by hiccups in the management of the process.
Recall that INEC had announced registered voters could pick up their PVCs between December 12th, 2022, and January 22nd, 2023, and subsequently at the 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards from the 6th of January to the 15th of January 2023 between the hours of 9am and 3pm every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. Relatedly, INEC had on January 4, 2023, revealed that no fewer than 6.7 million Nigerians were yet to collect their PVCs across 17 states. As of December 20th, 2022, 231,900 registered voters were yet to pick up their PVCs in Gombe state. As of, 2022, 1,693,963 PVCs were yet to be collected in Lagos State, and 661,783 in Edo state. Other states with a sizeable catalogue of uncollected voters cards included Oyo (700,000), Ogun (400,000), Imo (300,000), Kogi (160,966), Kwara (120,602), and Borno (80,117). In the FCT, 460,643 PVCs had not been collected as of December 24th, 2022. INEC also revealed that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) had the highest number of uncollected PVCs in the FCT.
While we acknowledge the efforts of the Commission in ensuring that no citizen is disenfranchised in the forthcoming elections which are just a few weeks away, we are concerned about the needless hurdles Nigerians are being subjected to in obtaining their permanent voters’ cards. In our monitoring of the situation across the nation, we noted multiple challenges which created bottlenecks in the collection process. INEC’s failure to resolve these issues to date suggests that a sizeable number of voters may not receive their PVCs before the new deadline elapses and thus will be unable to cast their votes. For instance, while monitoring PVCs collection centres in the Federal Capital Territory, we noted that while the collection process has been smooth in some locations, the situation in other locations, serving larger populations, leaves much to be desired. Similar trends were noted in other states, including Lagos and Nasarawa states. We, therefore, call INEC’s attention to some of the specific difficulties that several duly registered voters in the Federal Capital Territory have encountered while attempting to obtain their PVCs: For instance, while monitoring PVCs collection centres in the Federal Capital Territory, we noted that while the collection process has been smooth in some locations, the situation in other locations, serving larger populations, leaves much to be desired. Similar trends were noted in other states, including Lagos and Nasarawa states. We, therefore, call INEC’s attention to some of the specific difficulties that several duly registered voters in the Federal Capital Territory have encountered while attempting to obtain their PVCs:
Voters in the Utako Ward of the AMAC LGA have complained of sluggish PVC distribution due to understaffing.
Several voters in the Orozo Ward reported visiting their wards upwards of three times and were repeatedly told that their PVCs were not ready.
At Lugbe Primary School (the collection centre for Kabusa ward), where there are over 60 polling units which include polling units in Kabusa, Airport Road, some parts of Apo and Life Camp districts, there have been complaints about the sorting process occasioned because new voters were not separated from those with cases of lost or transferred cards; this has significantly slowed down the process, leading to massive crowds, daily queue waits of more than 700 persons, reports of raucous behaviour, stampedes, and people fainting due to exhaustion from long hours of standing on the queue. There have also been reported cases of unprinted and missing PVCs.
Despite INEC’s declaration that official collection hours are 9am to 3pm, there have been reports of INEC officials resuming at about 11 am each day at some of the collection centres, resulting in people having to wait in line for more than 4 hours before any INEC official shows up, and then having to contend with long queues due to the late commencement.
Several people also complained of inaccuracies in the SMSs and emails sent by INEC to some registered voters, instructing them to pick up their card in a particular ward, but were then redirected to another after spending hours in long queues.
Global Rights applauds the patriotic enthusiasm displayed by citizens in collecting their PVCs which is an indication of their willingness to be active at the polls. It would be an unacceptable disservice to Nigeria’s fledgling democracy for INEC to disenfranchise willing and eligible voters due to a flawed collection process, as their continued frustration may trigger their resignation and deepen distrust for the electoral process. We, therefore, urge INEC to hastily resolve these challenges in order to enable citizens to fulfil their civic obligation as the extended PVC collection deadline draws near. This has become not only relevant but imperative to addressing the recurrent issue of voter apathy that has characterized elections in Nigeria. We will continue to monitor the process and call on Nigerians not to relent in the face of structural inhibitions but rather to demand accountability for smooth, transparent, free and fair elections in Nigeria.