No Registration, No Voting, Things Not to Ignore on … – INEC Official.
An Officer of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Federal Constituency Ogunbona side, Ijebu – Ode axis – Mr. OLANREWAJU Ademolu Muritala has urged Nigerians especially those that have qualified to vote to make sure that they have their permanent voters’ card before the 2019 General Elections that will come up in February 2019 when eligible voters should go out to vote for the candidates of their choice and make sure their votes count.
He said voting is a constitutional right for all eligible citizens and registration to vote is a prerequisite for voting in elections. He said these recently in Ibadan during an exclusive interview with PublicTimes Newspaper correspondent.
Continous Voters Registration:
Mr. Olanrewaju added that Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) process is an exercise that allows every qualified person to be registered as voter as prescribed by the law. This exercise allows for the registration of Nigerians who are 18 years or above; including those who turned 18 years after a previous voter registration exercise but have not had the opportunity to register.
He explained that:
(1) Voters Registration exercise and voting is a self-present process, so also is Continuous Voter Registration – CVR. Enrollment by proxy is not allowed. Anyone who wishes to register and vote must appear in person at CVR Centre for registration as well as polling unit to cast vote. There is no proxy registration or proxy voting.
(2) Registration is done once by a person. A person cannot register in more than one registration center. If the voter has residence in more than one constituency, he or she has to choose only one location to register or vote.
(3) Inclusiveness; this he described as the Register of Voters that must include as many eligible voters as possible and registration must be accessible to all eligible voters who are willing to participate in elections, without let or hindrance.
(4) Registration is conducted in public in order to be monitored by national and international observers, party agents as well as representatives of Media organizations. He emphasized that registration is a prerequisite for exercising the right to vote. Those whose names are not in the voters’ registrar are not to be allowed to cast votes on Election Day even if he or she meets other requirements for voting.
Persons Eligible for Continuous Voters Registration:
Mr. Olanrewaju said the person shall be a citizen of Nigeria who has attained the age of 18 years on or before the registration day and who could not register during a previous registration exercise. CVR is also open to person who is resident, working or native of Local Government Area/ Area Council or Registration Area/ Ward covered by the Area Registration Center and who shall not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rules or regulations in force in Nigeria.
In addition the person shall present him/herself to the CVR officer for registration, shall provide proof of identity, age and nationality if requested. He or she shall have registered before and his/her name/ photo/ fingerprints shall have been captured before and such a person must provide his or her Temporary Voters card.
He also said that CVR will be conducted at Area Registration Centers or Ward centers between the local hours of 8:00 am and 4:00pm daily for a specified period. And after the CVR exercise, the Preliminary Registration of Voters shall be displayed for public scrutiny at every Registration Centre for a specified period.
Assurance of Ethical Guidance for Officials:
Mr. Olanrewaju further explained that there is an Oath/ Affirmation of Neutrality for Electoral Personnel and this provides legal and ethical standards intended to guide the activities Electoral Officials during the entire Electoral process from the beginning to end. These include candidates’ nomination, registration, political campaigns, polling as well as collation and counting of Voters and elections, these are standards which all Electoral Officials must obey and implement with common sense and good faith.
He assured eligible voters that INEC will sanction Electoral Officials for any violation of the Oath/Affirmation of Neutrality. He charged the INEC officials and Management of the CVR process to maintain their professional ethics to discharge their duties in such manner as would attract the confidence of the citizens in the electoral process and the electoral authority. The officials should be courteous, polite and helpful at all times; Officials should treat all persons equally and with respect and official actions and activities should be characterized by the highest ethical standards such as integrity, impartiality, transparency, fairness, professionalism, gender sensitivity and support to the aged and people with disability.
Officials Allowed at CVR Centers:
Mr. Olanrewaju Ademolu added that the persons allowed in the CVR Centres and polling Units are the INEC designated Officials, CVR Centre Officials, Political Party Agents, Security Agents, Accredited Observers, and Prospective Registrants and voters as well as representatives of Media organizations.
He described security agent as any person from the Nigerian Police or Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) or any other security Agency duly assigned to a Registration Centre and polling Unit during election and mandated to enforce and maintain law and order through the CVR exercise.
He narrated that some of the duties of a security agent during Electoral process include: maintenance of security, law and order at the centers; ensuring that the CVR exercise is conducted without any disturbance; arresting on the instruction of the INEC officials any person(s) found causing any disturbance or preventing eligible voters from registration or voting or threatening the peace of the center; security and protection of the officials, materials and equipment at the center and security and protection of other stakeholders involved in the electoral process. He concluded that a security Agent has unlimited access to the center at all times but does not have the right to interfere with the electoral exercise.
Penalties for Contraventions of Electoral Act:
Mr. Olanrewaju later told PublicTimes some of the Electoral laws and certain penalty for these contravening the acts.
(i.) No person shall register in more than one registration center or register more than once in the same registration center and any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (2) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.
(ii.) No voter shall hold more than one valid voters’ card, any person who contravenes sub-section (2) of this section commits an offence and shall be liable to conviction, to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
(iii.) No person shall issue a duplicate voters’ card to any voter on the polling day or less than thirty (30) days before polling day. Any person who contravenes sub- section (3) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
(iv.) Any person who is found with unlawful possession of any voters’ card whether issued in the name of any voter or not; or sells at attempts to sell or offers to sell any voters’ card whether issued in the name of any voter or not; or buys or offers to buy voters’ card whether on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person, commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding N500,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
(v.) Any person who makes a false statement in any application for registration as a voter, knowing such to be false commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
(vi.) Any person who under duress, including threats of any kind, cause or induces any person or persons generally to refrain from registering a voter or voters; in any way hinders another person from registering as a voter; commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding N500,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years he concluded.
Checking of Your Voter Registration Status:
Finally, he said an enquiring registered voter could send enquiry for status in the following format: State of Registration, Last Name, Voter Identification Number (VIN) or the last five (5) digits of the VIN through an SMS to 20120 or to 08171646876 and a response would be sent to the enquirer’s phone within 15 minutes.