The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said underage voters and parents of all ineligible voters will be arrested for aiding and abetting electoral fraud in the 2023 general elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, sounded the warning while featuring on a Television programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.
The INEC commissioner warned underage voters to stay away from polling units during the general election or risk arrest.
He said, “We have made it very clear that any visibly underage person should not approach any of our polling units on election day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture”.
The Commission further dismissed those involved in the buying of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and harvesting of Voter Identification Numbers (VIN).
He said, “Those who are harvesting Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of registered voters are doing that in futility.
“Why are they harvesting and buying off VINs when those VINs were published in our local government areas and in our registration areas when we displayed the voter registers for claims and objections? Those VINs are there.
“We have made it very clear that this Commission will deploy the BVAS for voters’ identification and authentication and the data of every registered voter in Nigeria per polling unit is domiciled in the BvAS and not in the PVCs.
“The only thing the Presiding Officer will do on Election Day is to look at the last six digits of your PVC and use it to bring out your VIN for the purpose of calling up your data from the BVAS.
“Those buying PVCs and harvesting VINs can only engage in voter oppression.
“They can only prevent the voter from going to the polling unit on Election Day but in terms of carrying the PVC of someone else to give another person for voting, I can assure you that it is next to impossible”.
On recruitment of adhoc staff for the election, Okoye said: “The Commission will engage 1.4 million adhoc staff made up of National Youth Service Corps members and students in tertiary institutions in their final year.
He said, “You will know that it is next to impossible for INEC to have over 1.4 million staff in its payroll.
“The strength staff of the Commission is around 16,000 and so when we devolve the collection to the various registration areas, we are going to engage the services of corp members to assist the Commission in terms of giving out these PVCs.”
Okoye said the Commission would publish the official register of voters that will be used for the 2023 general election on January 16.
“Our voters register is robust and we believe that it is very credible. As of today, we have 93.5 registered voters in the register.
“On the 16th of January 2023, the Commission will publish the official register of voters that will be used for the 2023 general election.
“Yes, I completely agree that there have been issues around underage registration.
“In some of the areas where we recorded underage registration, we have summoned all the officers that engaged in that particular exercise to appear before the Commission and appear before a special panel of the Commission and it is still ongoing.
“We have made it very clear that any visibly underage person should not approach any of our polling units on election day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture.
“The Chairman has told Nigerians that the cleaning of the voter register is an ongoing venture and we are going to make sure that all malicious registrations that got into our register will be removed prior to election day.
“Some of the information on social media relating to underage registration was carried out between 2011 and before we went into the 2019 general election.
“This Commission had the courage to publish the voter register and asked Nigerians to scrutinise the register to make sure that every malicious registration is removed.
“We assure Nigerians that the voters register that will be used in the 2023 election is the one that they will be proud of,” he said.