Ahead of this year’s general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the deadline of the timeframe for collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) nationwide by one week.
Daily Trust reports that INEC had fixed January 22 as the deadline for the PVC collections after it was devolved to the wards and registration areas to ease collection by registrants.
But on Thursday night, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, said at the end of the commission’s regular meeting, where the ongoing collection of the PVCs and other issues, were deliberated upon, a decision was taken to extend the exercise.
According to him, the commission was encouraged by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country.
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“In some of the states, as many as 100,000 PVCs were collected in the last five days since the devolution to Ward level started on Saturday 6th January 2023. The commission is determined to ensure that registered voters have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the forthcoming election.
“For this reason, the timeframe for collection of PVCs is extended by eight days. Instead of ending on Sunday 22nd January 2023, the collection of PVCs will continue until Sunday 29th January 2023. At the moment, the period of collection is 9.00am-3.00pm daily (including Saturdays and Sundays).
“As a result of this extension, there is a consequential adjustment of the collection by location as follows: Collection at Registration Area (Ward) level is extended by one a week from Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd January 2023.
“Collection at Local Government level will resume on Monday 23rd – Sunday 29th January 2023,” Okoye said.
Meanwhile, the commission said it is investigating allegations of extortion by officials at some of the collection centres and inducement by some unscrupulous voters to circumvent processes in order to obtain their PVCs.
Those found culpable, Okoye said, will face disciplinary action and/or prosecution.
He said, “Similarly, the commission is disturbed by allegations of discriminatory issuance of PVCs in some locations. This is against the law. All bonafide registrants are entitled to their PVCs and to use them to vote on Election Day in any part of the country where they are registered.
“Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been directed to ensure that no such practices occur nationwide and take immediate disciplinary action against violators.
“For the record, the Commission has printed 13,868,441 PVCs for all new valid registrants as well as applicants for transfer or replacement of cards. Nevertheless, issuing officers should compile any complaints about non-availability of cards and forward them to their immediate supervisors for the attention of RECs who shall compile and forward them for necessary action.”
He also commended the patience and perseverance of citizens as the commission continue to finetune the process to make the collection of PVCs easier.