As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) extends by three days between Friday 8 and 11, for voters to collect their permanent voter cards, investigation by Blueprint Weekend has shown that many voting adults may be disenfranchised.
When this reporter visited Dutse Centre in Bwari area council Friday afternoon, he saw a mammoth crowd of adults seeking to collect their cards, but they were disappointed because they could not get them. A prospective voter, Mr Adamu Mathais, told Blueprint Weekend that he applied for transfer of card from Niger state to the FCT since May 2018, and was told that his card was ready, but that each time he visited, he was told his card was not ready.
“Since the first week of May 2018, I applied for transfer, but up till now the card is not available despite coming here times without number. The funny thing is that they kept asking me to come every week but today is supposed to be the last day if not now we heard it has been extended till Monday. But even then, what is the chance that the card will be ready between now and Monday? One of their officials here told me to forget voting in this election since my voting point has been moved from Niger state to the FCT and I cannot get my card. This looks to me like a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise me from exercising my right. Something has to be done before this election is conducted. What is worrisome is that the INEC chairman himself was the one that announced that all cards whether fresh registration, request for transfer or damaged cards requests are ready for collection. So, what is happening?”
A lady, Oyewole Olaoluwa told Blueprint Weekend that she applied for transfer of card from Kwara state to the FCT in April 2018 and up till now her card is not ready despite assurance by the commission that all cards are ready for collection. “Now they are telling me that my card cannot be ready for this election; so what do they want me to do? I want to vote, so INEC should get my card for me,” she said.
Mr Kevin Jacob, the supervisor in charge of the centre, told Blueprint Weekend that even though their complaints are genuine, “the bulk of the problem lies with the voters themselves” whom he said did double registration. He, however, said the problem “is beyond the centre” as they “can only deliver the cards provided to the centre.”