The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be constrained to retain the names of some dead Nigerians in the voters’ register for the forthcoming elections, investigation has revealed.
The National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, maintained that the commission would go ahead to use its current register for the 2019 elections.
Explaining why dead persons may still appear on the list, Okoye explained that the commission could not unilaterally delete names of dead persons on its register of voters because it did not fall within its mandate to do so.
The National Population Commission has been charged with the responsibility of registering births and deaths in the country, he added.
It will be recalled that media reports have earlier revealed that that names of dead Nigerians including three former governors who died years back were still on the INEC register for the general elections.
The former governors are Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa State), Isiaka Adeleke (Osun State) and Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna State). While Yakowa died in December 2012, Alamieyeseigha and Adeleke died in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Also on the voter list are the names of the late former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and the late former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili.
Meanwhile, ut could not be established that these names have been removed. The official register of voters has been published and handed over to the registered political parties.
“The commission will not unilaterally remove any name from the voter register without concrete and verifiable information. The commission has published the official register for the 2019 General Elections containing 84,004,084 registered voters. Okoye said the commission will continue with the clean-up of the voter register after the 2019 elections.”
“The removal of the names of the deceased from the voter register is ongoing and will continue immediately after the 2019 elections. We have a register that is good for the conduct of the 2019 elections.’’
“On its part, the commission will continue to run its Automatic Finger Identification System and maintain business rules on the register of voters for purposes of making the register a credible source of information and data for the Nigerian people,” he added.
Explaining why names of some dead prominent Nigerians could still be on the register despite the public knowledge of the deaths of such people, he said, “The commission and its members do not use their personal knowledge of issues and events to remove the names of persons from the voter register.
“The implication is that INEC can only remove a name from the voter register if the NPC confirms the official demise of a particular individual.
Allayed fear of misconduct, he added that the commission would use the upgraded Smart Card Reader for the conduct of the 2019 elections, adding that “the picture and details of the holder of the Permanent Voter Card must match the details in the EVR before an individual would be allowed to vote.’’
Corroborating Okoye, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakub Mahmood, explained that the commission had cleaned the register to the best of its ability, adding that card readers would play a critical role in authenticating the actual person to vote in this year’s general elections.