The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it is removing underage voters in the registered voters’ records ahead of the forthcoming elections.
The electoral umpire has also created additional centres for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).
This is coming as the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has cautioned politicians against any attempt to rig the forthcoming general election.
INEC’s Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, revealed the commission’s efforts to clean up the voters’ registers on a television programme monitored in Abuja at the weekend.
When asked what the commission, INEC is doing with regard to underage voters and non-Nigerians, Okoye said, “On the issue of the underage voters, this commission published the entire registered voters in Nigeria in various local government areas and all the registration areas.
“People have made their objections, complaints and claims. The commission is presently cleaning up the voter register. The cleaning up is an ongoing exercise and we are going to try our best to make sure that we go into the 2023 general election with a voter register Nigerians will be proud of.
“In terms of non-Nigerians voting, only validly registered voters will be in the position to vote in the 2023 general election. Any time Immigration Service sees any non-Nigerian with a voter’s card and claims to be a Nigerian, they should arrest him and make the card available to INEC and we cancel those registrations.
“Therefore, Nigerians should be on the lookout. If any non-Nigerian approaches any of the polling units, they should alert security agencies,” he explained.
INEC has also created new centres for the collection of PVCs in the FCT.
According to a circular released by the commission on late Friday in Abuja, the period set for the collection of the PVCs from the designated centres, is between January 6 and January 15.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, Onaiyekan, has cautioned politicians against any attempt to rig the forthcoming general election.
“With the current yearnings of the people for a better country, the election will no longer be business as usual,” Onaiyekan said on Saturday during the celebration of his 40th anniversary as Bishop, at the Holy Trinity Church, Maitama, Abuja.
“As regards to the results of the elections, politicians should desist from any form of manipulations to their favour if not voted for.
“All those who are planning to play games and scheme to rig in order to frustrate the desire of the decision of the people as regards the results of the elections, should desist from such.
“All of them whether they are in government or not; they should desist from rigging or causing violence, they should not do it, they should allow this election to run in a free and fair way,” he noted.
He stated that he has no special candidate, adding that the advice was for the politicians to understand that “the mood in which Nigeria now is, is not a mood that they will quietly accept a rigged election.
“For the sake of peace, there will be serious repercussions if anybody doesn’t allow free and fair elections. It won’t be business as usual, anymore.
“I want Nigerians to know that they can no longer keep quiet all the time, hoping that things will change; that God will work miracles.”
Onaiyekan advised Nigerians to use their voter cards to express their minds.
According to him, the outcome of the election will not be about who has more campaign posters or can mobilise more crowds to stadiums.
“It will depend on who can convince Nigerians, and give us a new kind of government.
“Government that is based on people interested in working for the common good and not out to enrich themselves or stay in power or protect their stolen wealth so as not to be queried,” he said.
The Archbishop advised politicians to fear God, as they would answer to their actions before Him.
“Even if no one asks questions, God will ask questions and He has His way of asking questions,” he added.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja