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Stranded voters lament, seek extension to register, INEC adamant

Nigerians, who could not register in the continuous voter registration, which ended on Sunday, have expressed frustration over the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission to extend the exercise.

In preparation for the 2023 general elections, INEC began the nationwide registration  in June 2021 to enable Nigerians who had just attained the voting age and others to register.

The electoral body planned to terminate the CVR on June 30,2022,  but a civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project on June 5 filed a suit at the Federal High Court seeking an extension of the exercise beyond that date.

Consequently, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon on June 20 granted an order of interim injunction stopping INEC from stopping the registration exercise.

In compliance with the order, the electoral body extended the exercise till July 31.

Despite the extension, however, hundreds of applicants have continued to besiege registration centres nationwide in a bid to register before the deadline.

But findings indicated that thousands of Nigerians in Niger, Kano, Lagos, Katsina, Benue, Ogun and Enugu as well as the Federal Capital Territory could not participate in the exercise before it ended on Sunday.

In Niger State, hundreds of people were seen milling about at the INEC registration centre near the Eastern byepass, Minna, waiting to be attended to by officials. Some of them complained that they had been at the centre since 5am.

An applicant, Ibrahim Musa said, “Some of us have been here since 5am and they (officials) have been keeping us since then. They said they are working with numbers but we wrote our names on a list and no one is using the list. They said they will no longer go by the list but people with cars are coming and driving in and getting registered while we are left here outside the gate.”

At 5.07pm on Sunday, over a hundred persons were seen at  the state INEC headquarters on David Mark road, waiting to be registered.

They told correspondents in Niger that the INEC staff said they had ended the exercise.

Omotola Ayeni said, “They refused to register us; they said they had closed and we have been here since 6am.’’

A Minna resident, Sarah Samson said she had been visiting the  registration centre for about two days and still was not registered.

She accused the electoral officials of unethical conduct, saying, ‘’There are so many irregularities; ‘man know man’ (nepotism) is being practiced here.“

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