Voter registration: Obi group threatens lawsuit, INEC unmoved

The Peter Obi Support Network, on Friday, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to extend the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration till November.

The POSN said it might “be left with no other option but to seek redress in court since all entreaties to INEC to continue the CVR have fallen on deaf ears.”

The Director, Legal/Election Monitoring, POSN, Modupe Olufemi-Akodu, issued the threat in a statement in Abuja.

She said, “We have made several appeals to INEC to stick to the Electoral law, which stipulates that voter registration should stop 90 days before the general elections. But all our entreaties seem to have fallen on deaf ears as INEC is going ahead with its plans to suspend the exercise on July 31.

“This is suspected to be a trick to disenfranchise millions of young potential voters who have not been able to register or transfer their cards within this period.”

Olufemi-Akodu alleged that INEC’s action amounted to voter suppression to favour a particular political party against the others.

Meanwhile, INEC has challenged the group to go ahead with its threat of going to court.

In a statement, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said, “The Continuous Voter Registration began in June 2021. To be sure, the CVR has been going on for the past one year. As of Monday, July 25, 2022, the commission had registered over eleven million new voters (precisely 11,012,119) across the country. Nigerians need to appreciate our efforts.

“On April 14 this year, some criminal elements invaded our registration centre in the Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State and killed our staff member, Mr Nwokorie Anthony, in cold blood for engaging in the legitimate official work of registering voters. These criminal elements, who are sometimes referred to as unknown gunmen, also humiliated two other staff members and warned INEC to stop conducting the CVR in the South-East because according to them, there will be no election there in 2023.

“Those who perpetrated this dastardly act have not been arrested. Where was this so-called group when our staff member was killed? Did they issue any statement to condole with INEC or the family of the deceased? No!

“Despite that, we have continued to register voters in the South-East region and all over the country under difficult circumstances.

“The commission had, according to the CVR timetable that we released in June 2021, planned to suspend the CVR on June 30, 2022. But it was extended to July 31, 2022. Not only that, the commission recently extended our working hours from 9am to 5pm, instead of the previous 9am to 3pm. Besides, our staff members have also been directed to work on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The suspension of the CVR is necessary because of the various activities that the commission needs to carry out in preparation for the 2023 general elections. Among them is the need to clean up the voter register and also to print the Permanent Voter Cards – over eleven million of them – and make these PVCs available for collection from October this year, well ahead of the general elections slated for next February and March. This is a lot of work.”

Meanwhile, the Edo State Police Command, on Friday, refuted claims that it arrested the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Johnson Alalibo, on Thursday.