CSOs Decry Disenfranchisement, Seek PVC Collection Extension

A coalition of Civil Society Organisation has knocked the Independent National Electoral Commission over the perceived disenfranchisement of citizens, especially students, in the forthcoming general elections.

This was contained in a statement released Friday by the 10 CSOs including Enough is enough, Yiaga Africa, Dataphyte, Reclaim Naija, and others.

In the statement, the CSOs sought an extension of the Permanent Voter Cards collection deadline and a better timetable to help students participate in the election.

It read, “According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards will end this Sunday, January 29th at 5 pm.

“However, reports from voters in different collection centers across the country revealed that the INEC officials informed some validly registered voters that their PVCs were not available; while some others were asked to return on a later day beyond the deadline or after the election to collect their PVCs.”

Decrying the plight of students, the statement added, “We also note the concern of the students who registered at home while tertiary institutions were shut down for over eight months.

“According to INEC, 40% of the 9,518,188 newly registered voters are students. If they registered at home and are now at school, INEC must ensure they can pick up their cards in the least expensive way possible.”

The CSOs then asked INEC to “inform Nigerians if it is still printing cards and when all the cards for registered voters will be available for collection;

“Extend PVC collection to ensure that everyone whose cards were not found is reprinted, and there is a clear process for them to pick up the cards;

“Work with the Nigerian Universities Commission to ensure that there are no classes or exams the week before elections so students can go home to vote;

“Communicate with newly registered voters, especially students, when the PVCs are ready; and

“Create a dedicated desk for civil society organizations, media, and citizens to escalate the issues being observed for a quick resolution.”

The statement concluded, “The engine to drive this process is clear and proactive information sharing from INEC. There are high expectations for this election and INEC can not be seen to be deliberately or inadvertently disenfranchising certain groups of people.”

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