YIAGA AFRICA #WatchingTheVote (WTV) Interim Report on the Display, Claims and Objection Exercise Conducted by INEC from Monday, March 26 to Saturday, March 31, 2018
YIAGA AFRICA, formerly known as Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement is a civic organization promoting democracy, governance and development in Africa through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our goal is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Our thematic areas of work include elections; legislative engagement; youth and public accountability. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote is a citizen’s-led electoral integrity movement dedicated to the promotion of credible elections through systematic and technology driven observation of elections. In pursuit of its goal of enhancing the quality of elections, YIAGA Africa deploys citizens’ observers to observe the conduct of activities within the electoral cycle.
Display claims and objections took place across INEC offices in the 774 LGAs and registration centres nationwide, from March 29 to March 31, 2018. According to Section 19 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As amended 2015), the Independent National Electoral Commission is mandated to [by notice, appoint a period not less than 5 days and not exceeding 14 days to display a copy of the voters’ register for each Local Government. Area Council or ward for public scrutiny. During this period any objection or complaint in relation to the names omitted or included on the voters’ register or in election to any necessary correction is to be raised or filed. The Claims and Objection are to be addressed to the Resident Electoral Commission through the Electoral Officer in charge of the Local Government/ Area and such claim is to be made on the form prescribed by INEC].
Display of the Preliminary Register of Voters (PRV) involves INEC publicly displaying the PRV to give the public the opportunity to review the PRV. The PRV is the initial list of voters who registered during the registration exercise from April 27, 2017 to March 22 2018. Claims and objections involves determining if there are potential problems with the PRV and bringing the attention of INEC to the infractions. The display claims and objection exercise are intended to provide opportunity for voters to review the preliminary register of voters and notify the Commission of any discrepancies, wrong information or fraudulent or illegal registration in the register of voters. Such claims and objections are verified and reviewed by INEC thereby enhancing the quality and credibility of the final register. This also ensures that prospective voters who register are not disenfranchised.
WTV fielded citizen observers in 19 states for the display. The observers were also in all area councils of the FCT.
Overall, reports from WTV Citizens observers show that display, claims and objections happened from March 26 to March 31, 2018. WTV Observers were deployed to observe the process on Thursday, March 29, 2018 and their reports showed that while the preliminary voters register were displayed conspicuously in most of the INEC registration centres, many citizens did not show up to crosscheck their information. In addition, there were no INEC officials in some registration centres to attend to the few people that were seen cross-checking their information. Political party agents were also not present to scrutinize the preliminary voters register.
YIAGA Africa’s WTV deployed a total of 21 citizen observers for the display, claims and objections at the INEC offices/registration centres spread across 19 states and the FCT. All observers were thoroughly briefed on the aspect of the exercise to observe and report.
WTV observers were instructed to observe on Thursday, March 29, 2019 at one INEC office or registration centre close to their place of residence. On the day of the observation, WTV observers sent in their reports based on a comprehensive checklist to the WTV Data center located in Abuja.
WTV received a total of 21 reports from its observers during the display claims and objections process.
Observations and Findings
The Display Claims and Objection as important as it is, recorded a very poor participation of citizens in the process. A major challenge that enabled this poor participation was the poor communication and publicity of the exercise informing citizen about the exercise and educating them about the procedures and importance of the exercise to ensure a credible register of voters. Accordingly, citizen participation was abysmally low and INEC officials were not seen in some of the centers that WTV observers visited.
Our findings reveals that:
- Display of Preliminary Registration of voters (PRV) was not done in all INEC offices or registration centers. In some registration centers like the Kuje INEC office, the PRV were seen littered around the centre.
- There was low turn of registrants to verify and confirm their information.
- The display happened only at INEC LGA offices or at registration centers that were operated for up to a period of three (3) months.
Deployment of INEC Officials
- Average of 3 INEC Officials were seen in the registration centers visited. Although it is not every registration center that WTV observers visited that had INEC officials.
Display of Preliminary Register of Voters
- The Preliminary Register of Voters were conspicuously displayed in almost all the registration centres that WTV observers visited.
Providing Instruction to People about the procedures for claims and objections
- INEC officials did not inform people about the process of making claims or objections in 12 of the 21 registration centres that WTV Observers visited.
Average Number of People who visited registration centers to scrutinize the PRV or file a claim or objection
- Average of 16 people visited the registration centres to either scrutinize the PRV or file a claim or objection.
Scrutinizing the PRV
- No one was prevented from scrutinizing the PRV in all the 21 registration centre’s that WTV Observers visited.
Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not a Nigerian
- In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person is not a Nigerian.
Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not 18 years old
- In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person was not 18 years old.
Challenge to delete a registration because the person is not deceased
- In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person was deceased.
Challenge to delete a registration because the person registered more than once
- In the centre’s visited by the WTV observers, no challenge was raised to delete a registration because it was believed that the person registered more than once.
Disruption of Claims and Objection Process
- There was no attempt to disrupt the claims and objection process in all the 21 registration centres that WTV observers visited.
Intimidation and Harassment
- There was no attempt to intimidate or harass voters, INEC officials or observers in all of the 21 registration centres that WTV observers visited.
Deployment of Political Party Agents
- No political party agents were seen in 21 of the registration centres visited by WTV Observers.
Conclusions & Recommendations
Overall, reports from WTV Citizens observers show that display, claims and objections happened from March 26 to March 31, 2018. While the PRV were displayed in almost all the registration centres visited, most new registrants did not take advantage of the opportunity to verify and confirm their information and political party agents were not seen in all of the centres visited. WTV therefore, make the following recommendations to help enhance the quality of the electoral process:
- There is a need to intensify the Commission’s efforts to inform voters about its electoral activities in order to encourage participation. INEC should deploy diverse communication tools including both traditional and social media for effective communication. Information should be clear about the commencement and end of every phase of the process and the required action to be taken by the citizens.
- INEC need to improve on monitoring of every aspect of the electoral process
- The commission should be transparent about the issues and complaints raised during the display claims and objections period and make the processes of resolving the claims and/or objections open.
- INEC staff need to take exercise as such very serious as other electoral activities of the commission in order not to disenfranchise voters.
- While the Electoral Act provides for a minimum of 5 days for the Display of the Voters register exercise, it is important for INEC consider increasing the number of days for the display claims and objection in subsequent exercise. This will enable more participation.
- The commission should also improve the physical state of some of its LGA offices that serve as Centers
To the Citizens:
- Citizens have the responsibility to demand for information from the commission and other stakeholders about every aspect of the electoral process and how they can get involved. Citizens are also encouraged to follow INECs social media platforms for updates on the electoral process. These include: @inecnigeria on twitter and facebook and instagram and visit the Commissions website; www.inecnigeria.org
- There is a moral burden on the citizen to take every aspect of the electoral process serious and to ensure they participate actively and protect their franchise. The process of display, claims and objections is ensures that voters details are correctly captured. The process also enables a credible voter register by the attention of the commission any infraction to the list of registered voters or any individual who are not eligible to be registered as voters.
To the Political Parties:
- Political parties should ensure deployment of their representatives to observe every aspect of the electoral process.
To the Security Agencies:
- Security agencies must ensure prosecution of electoral offenders especially those who may have contravened the CVR process as stipulated in the electoral act.
- Security agencies should continue to ensure deployment of their personnel to provide security for every aspect of the electoral process.
To other stakeholders:
- There is need to improve civic and voter education efforts in order to encourage voters to make the most of the opportunities provided by INEC to participate in the electoral process.
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