I Was Almost Killed Because Of Underage Voting – Ex-INEC Boss

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A former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Lai Olurode, has recounted how he almost lost his life for refusing to condone underage voting.

The sociology lecturer said this on Sunday in reaction to reports of underage voting that emerged in the local government election in Kano State recently.

Olurode, who served as National Commissioner in the South West from 2010 to 2015, said that the government should ensure the protection of INEC officials to enable them discharge their duties without fear or favour.

He blamed the prevalence of underage voting on lack of enlightenment on the side of the populace.

Speaking with The Punch, he said, “If the people can be enlightened, underage voting will reduce. There are certain areas of this country where even if they know the person is a kid, they will insist that the child must vote.

“I had to run for my life at one of the election centres in a part of the country because these people said children must vote or there would be no election at all. It is that bad. The APC government has a responsibility to deliver an election that will be better than the 2015 election.

“The Kano State example is a bad signal and a warning that we really have a lot to do and the voter register is key. The register must be clean, it must not have ghost names or underage voters.”

Olurode added that while underage voting was widespread, it was more common in certain parts of the country than others.

“In the course of my service to the nation during the Jega’s era, it was happening in many parts of the country but there are specific geographic locations where it is very common which means the problem can be tackled if responded to promptly by all the stakeholders.

“When you see community leaders coming to meet you with a prepared list of children to be registered and you refuse, you come under threat.

“In some parts of the country, when you refuse to register a child, they go away but in some other parts, the people are the ones who will demand that the child is registered,” he added.

The don said that the best way to overcome underage voting was to harmonise the databases in the country, saying that information available on driving licences, passports, national identity cards and Bank Verification Numbers can be used to prevent the practice.

Also, he urged the federal government to engage community leaders, conduct mass voters education and train security personnel on how to cover electoral duties.

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