Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has extended the on-going collection of Permanent Voter Cards PVCs, by one week.
INEC which took the decision at its regular meeting Thursday in Abuja, said the exercise would now end January 29 instead of Sunday January 22.
The commission in a press statement issued by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the decision was to ensure no eligible voter was disenfranchised.
INEC expressed satisfaction with the large turn out of voters at the various collection centres nationwide.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “The Commission is encouraged by the tum-out of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country. In some of the states, as many as 100,000 PVCs were collected in the last five days since the devolution to Ward level started on Saturday 6th January 2023.
“The Commission is determined to ensure that registered voters have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the forthcoming election. For this reason, the time-frame for collection of PVCs is extended by eight days. Instead of ending on Sunday 22nd January 2023, the collection of PVCs will continue until Sunday 29th January 2023. At the moment, the period of collection is 9.00am – 3.00pm daily (including Saturdays and Sundays).
“As a result of this extension, there is a consequential adjustment of the collection by location as follows:
- Collection at Registration Area (Ward) level is extended by one a week from Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd January 2023.
- Collection at Local Government level will resume on Monday 23rd – Sunday 29th January 2023.”
INEC said it was investigating allegations of extortion by officials at some centres, vowing to punish anyone found culpable.
It also said it was investigating allegations of discriminatory issuance of PVCs in some parts of the country, saying such sharp practice is against the values of the commission.
“Commission is investigating allegations of extortion by officials at some of the collection centres and inducement by some unscrupulous voters to circumvent processes in order to obtain their PVCs. Those found culpable will be face disciplinary action and/or prosecution.
“Similarly, the Commission is disturbed by allegations of discriminatory issuance of PVCs in some locations. This is against the law. All bonafide registrants are entitled to their PVCs and to use them to vote on Election Day in any part of the country where they are registered. Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been directed to ensure that no such practices occur nationwide and take immediate disciplinary action against violators.
“For the record, the Commission has printed 13,868,441 PVCs for all new valid registrants as well as applicants for transfer or replacement of cards. Nevertheless, issuing officers should compile any complaints about non-availability of cards and forward them to their immediate supervisors for the attention of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) who shall compile and forward them for necessary action.
“The Commission once again appreciates the patience and perseverance of citizens as we continue to fine tune our process to make the collection of PVCs easier.”