The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed plans to commence on a nation-wide voter registration exercise before the end of this year. It also called for the establishment of Election Offences Commission aimed at handling all election related offences.
Speaking to LEADRESHIP in an exclusive interview recently in Abuja, the Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, said that the commission has been registering voters at its area offices and pointed out that it has not been effective due to the low turnout of eligible voters as well as lack of far-reaching sensitisation.
The commission said that it would no longer start voter registration a few days before an election as it used but rather would make it a continuous exercise, where any eligible voter could be registered at any time.
He said that the 2010 Electoral Act as amended provided for continuous voter registration and INEC would abide by it and noted however that the commission would need to extensive sensitisation and encourage eligible voters to begin registration at their various area offices instead of waiting for a few days to the election.
"If you go to our area offices now to be registered as a voter, you'll be registered. The 2010 electoral act as amended provides for continuous voter registration, which means that if you turn 18 years, our officials should be able to register you. Why this continuous voter registration exercise has not been effective is because the response has been poor, which is why we register voters a few days before the election, like what is going to play out in Edo election," he said.
Reacting to allegations of electoral offences, Mr.Umenger affirmed that multiple voter registration and other electoral offences were discovered in the course of voter registration exercise and the commission has so far prosecuted over 200 people.
He, however, said that even as INEC did not have the capacity to prosecute as many people as it would have wished, it was seeking partnership with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to prosecute as large a number as possible.
Commenting on the use of National Youth Corps members in the conduct of election, he said that nobody has the right to dictate to the commission what to do as regards the deployment of Youth Corps members.