By JOHN ONAH, Abuja –
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as false and malicious, a video circulating on various social media platforms, showing some INEC staff at FESTAC Town, Amuwo Odofin LGA Office, Lagos extracting Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) from Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and entering same into their cellphones.
The National Commissioner and the Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said in a statement on Wednesday, that the makers of the video insinuate that they were doing this for the purpose of undermining the 2023 General Election. The Commission wishes to state categorically that this is far from the truth.
He said: “Actually, the video shows staff of the Commission harvesting VINs from PVCs, but only as part of an inventory of uncollected cards, provided for in the new Guidelines for the Management and Collection of PVCs, approved by the Commission for implementation nationwide”.
“In its determination to enhance the rate of collection of PVCs, the Commission decided to establish a PVC collection process that includes an online component. The procedure entails that registered voters with access to the Internet could go to a dedicated portal to ascertain whether their PVCs are ready and to find their locations for subsequent collection. All they are required to do is to provide their details such as name, date of birth, state of registration or the last six digits of the VINs that they provided/received during registration, to locate their cards. This would improve the PVC collection process, but without prejudice to those who wish to go directly to the collection centres, he said.
“For the newer PVCs, that is those from the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) that took place between January and July 2022, the VINs were harvested automatically and made available online. However, for the older uncollected PVCs that predate the new guidelines, their VINs must be harvested manually and painstakingly for upload to the PVC collection portal (www.voters.inecnigeria.org). The portal will also improve the records of the Commission regarding collected and uncollected PVCs”.
He added that while the Commission appreciates the vigilance of Nigerians and their determination to see the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in 2023, it is exceedingly important that information such as contained in the said video is verified before sharing it with the public.
According to him, the major threat to the upcoming general election comes from fake news and disinformation. The Commission appeals to Nigerians to remain conscious of this, even if the prior intention is worthy.
“Finally, we remind Nigerians that all uncollected PVCs will be available for collection at our 774 Local Government offices nationwide from 12th December 2022 to 5th January 2023. From 6th January to 15th January 2023, the cards will be made available for collection at the 8809 Registration Areas/Wards across the country in order to bring them closer to their owners”.
Subsequently, from 16th January to 22nd January 2023, collection shall revert to our Local Government offices. Meanwhile, the online facility will be available throughout the exercise to assist registered voters in locating their PVCs for collection.
“We thank Nigerians for their continued support to the work of the Commission”.