Yesterday, in response to public outcry, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) extended by eight days, the timeline for the pick up of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) nationwide.
The National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, released a statement that included the extension and made it available to journalists in Abuja. The statement also stated that it was looking into claims of extortion by workers at some collection centers and coercion of some dishonest voters to evade the established procedures for obtaining PVCs.
The commission discussed several topics at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, including the continued nationwide collection of PVCs, according to Okoye. The commission is encouraged by the increase in the number of PVCs collected nationwide and the turnout of registered voters. When the devolution to Ward level began on Saturday, January 6, 2023, as many as 100,000 PVCs were gathered in some of the states over the course of the following five days. The commission is committed to giving registered voters plenty of time to obtain their PVCs prior to the upcoming election. The period for PVC collection has been extended by eight days as a result.
“The collecting of PVCs won’t cease on Sunday, January 22, 2023; it will last until Sunday, January 29, 2023. Currently, collections take place everyday from 9.00am to 3.00pm (including Saturdays and Sundays). This extension has led to the following consequential changes in the collection by location:
“From Monday, January 16 through Sunday, January 22, 2023, collection at the registration area/ward level is expanded by one per week. On January 23 until January 29, 2023, local government collection will commence.”
Still responding, it stated: “The commission is looking into reports of extortion by personnel at some of the collection centres and persuasion by some dishonest voters to evade procedures in order to receive their PVCs. Those found guilty will face sanctions and/or legal action.
“Similarly, claims of discriminatory PVC issuance in some regions alarm the commission. It’s illegal to do this. Every legitimate registrant has the right to receive their PVCs and to use them to cast their ballots on election day in any location across the nation where they are registered.
“Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been instructed to guarantee that such activities do not occur countrywide and to take swift disciplinary action against offenders.
“For the record, the commission printed 13,868,441 PVCs for all newly validly registered individuals as well as those who requested to transfer or replace their cards. However, issuing officers should gather all complaints regarding card non-availability and transmit them to their immediate supervisors for the attention of REC who will compile and forward them for required action.”
As INEC continues to improve its procedure to make the collection of PVCs simpler, Okoye thanked the citizens’ endurance and tolerance.