The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said a viral video purporting its staff member as collecting voter identification numbers for election fraud in 2023 was circulated to mislead the general public.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commission for Information, said while it is true that the commission’s workers were ‘harvesting VINs” from uncollected Permanent Voter Cards, the narrative that the voter IDs were being collected for rigging in the 2023 election cannot be further from the truth.
Okoye noted that the INEC officials seen at the commission’s office in FESTAC Town, Lagos, were only collecting voter IDs for inventory contrary to initial claims.
“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.
“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,” said the commission’s spokesman.
He added, “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.
“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.
“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.
“A 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.”
Okoye further urged those who are yet to collect their PVCs to visit the commission’s offices across 774 Local Government Areas of the country from 12th December 2022 to 5th January 2023.
He said, “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.”