By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the timeframe for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) nationwide by eight days.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said the decision was taken at the commission’s meeting on Thursday, to give registered voters ample opportunity to collect their PVCs before the forthcoming elections.
“For this reason, the timeframe for collection of PVCs is extended by eight days. Instead of ending on Sunday Jan. 22, the collection of PVCs will continue until Sunday Jan. 29.
“At the moment, the period of collection is 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily (including Saturdays and Sundays).”
Okoye said following the extension, “Collection at Registration Area (Ward) level is extended by one week from Jan. 16 to 22. Collection at Local Government level will resume on Jan. 23 to Jan. 29.
He also disclosed that INEC was 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.
He said that those found culpable would face disciplinary action and/or prosecution.
“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.”
Okoye said that Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) had been directed to ensure that no such practices occurred 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 Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) who shall compile and forward them for necessary action.”
Okoye said INEC was encouraged by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country, particularly 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 Jan. 6.
He also appreciated the patience and perseverance of citizens as INEC continued to finetune its process to make the collection easier. (NAN)