A report by the probe committee set up by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, to investigate the underage voting saga in Kano State, yesterday exonerated the Kano state (INEC) over its involvement in the accreditation of voters during the February Local Government election in the state.
The Report, acknowledged the existence of a small number of underage voters in the register who were registered during the 2011 and 2015 registration exercises but disclosed that there was no cases of under age voting as widely reported during the Kano state local government election.
According to the report, a formal request and approval for the release of the register was done accordingly and KANSIEC printed the soft copy issued by INEC.
It reads: “Although, the Kano election was conducted by KANSIEC, which is an independent constitutional body, many political commentators immediately linked the election to INEC, arguing that since the voters register is compiled by the INEC, it should be held responsible for the prevalence of ineligible persons on the national register of voters.
“Accreditation was observed in the polling unit where the governor voted and a few others within the same voting centre for photo-op purposes but that remained the only place such was done as the elections was a free for all affair with voters not going through any process of accreditation but being allowed to vote.”
The Report affirmed that “the KANSIEC threw process overboard and allowed for any one that wanted to vote to participate without recourse to INEC’s register. This perhaps was done to ensure massive return of votes aimed at giving impression of mass support for the ruling party in the state.”
The committee, therefore, called for actions to be taken to ensure that SIECs enjoy real independence and as well as the introduction of measures targeted at cleaning up the voters register in the remaining 35 states of the federation and the FCT were cases of ineligible voters have been confirmed.
It would be recalled that following the outcry of alleged underage voting that greeted the Kano local government election, the INEC had set up a committee to investigate the allegation, particularly the link, if any, between underage voting in the LG election and the national register of voters.
Reacting to photos of underage voters which went viral on social media immediately after the election, the report noted that “after thoroughly analysing the pictures and videos clips , it was discovered that majority of them were old pictures sourced from the internet that predated the February 10 local government elections in Kano.
“in fact, with only one exception, they were old pictures that have been in circulation in the social media between 2017 and 2017. However, many of the videos were from the LG elections in which unidentified persons were seen thumb-printing ballot papers in a free-for-all manner but in none of the clips was there accreditation of voters using the voters register.”
The report gave graphic analysis and pictorial evidence of earlier media reports where some of the pictures have been reported as far back as the 2015 general elections
As part of its recommendations, the report stated that “there are indeed genuine concerns about the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register. It however stated that this is a national problem with the register of states like Ekiti, Edo , Anambra and all other states showing evidence of the presence of a number of underage voters.”
It would also be recalled that the issue of names of foreigners appearing on voters register has been discovered in other states like Ekiti, Niger, Taraba, and others.
The Committee, however, recommended that political parties as well as Nigerians should get involved in the process of cleaning up the voters register since all registrants belong to a community and are known by the party.
It further revealed that the INEC Chairman is determined to clean up the register and will soon make very major announcements in that regards .