Nigeria: Communities in Benue Petition INEC Over 120,000 Disenfranchised IDP Voters

28 September 2021

Makurdi — Communities in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State have appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to look at the plight of 120,000 eligible voters who have been disenfranchised from participating in elections in the country following the commission's inability to register voters at the Internally Displaced Peoples' (IDPs) camps in Guma and Makurdi local governments.

A former Commissioner for Lands and Survey in Benue State, Mr. John Tondo, on behalf of the communities called on the INEC to make immediate special arrangements to take the on-going continuous voters' registration exercise to all the IDPs camps hosting 120,000 Nigerian citizens from Uvir, Mbadwem, Mbabai, Mbayer-Yandev, Mbawa, and Nyiev council wards of Guma.

Tondo said in a petition he sent to the Chairman of INEC over the weekend that it would be very much appreciated if registration centres for physical registration of voters would be located in the IDPs camps in Benue State.

In the petition dated 24th September 2021 and titled "Re: Continued Disenfranchisement of Internally Displaced Persons from Guma Local Government Area of Benue State," the former commissioner told the electoral body that "we believe this is the only way to guarantee that the internally displaced persons are given the opportunity of exercising their franchise in the forthcoming elections so that they can freely choose their political representatives."

The petition was copied to the Residential Electoral Commissioner in Benue State, and the Guma Local Government Electoral Officer.

In the petition, John Tondo served notice that "if no special arrangements are put in place by INEC within 21 days, we shall be constrained to have recourse to the judicial system and take legal steps to ensure that the commission is compelled to register and include in the voters' register every Nigerian citizen from the aforementioned council wards in the IDPs camps in Benue State."

Tondo, who also described himself as a community leader and a politician from Guma Local Government Area, told the commission that he was writing the petition on behalf of the IDPs from the following Council Wards in Guma Local Government Area: Uvir, Mbadwem, Mbabai, Mbayer-Yandev, Mbawa, and Nyiev, who were sacked from their homes by armed marauders and for a long time they have been living in IDPs camps in Benue State.

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