The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday, extended by seven days, the deadline for collection of Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs.
The exercise will now end on January 29, instead of January 22, as earlier scheduled.
Since the collection of the PVCs started, the polity has been awash with complaints by citizens over difficulties in picking up the cards worsened by extortion by INEC officials and alleged refusal to distribute the cards to non-indigenes in some states.
Photographs of pregnant women, nursing women and the aged in crowded collection centres have been trending in the media
Acting on the issue, INEC also vowed to punish any staff found to have extorted or discriminated against any registered voter in the issuance of the PVCs.
National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee at the commission, Dr. Festus Okoye, disclosed the extension in a statement, yesterday.
He said the decision was a fallout of Thursday’s regular meeting wherein the commission deliberated on a number of issues, including the ongoing collection of PVCs nationwide.
“The commission is encouraged by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country. 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 January 6, 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 January 22, 2023, the collection of PVCs will continue until January 29, 2023. At the moment, the period of collection is 9a.m. – 3p.m., 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 week from January 16 to 22, 2023.
“Collection at Local Government level will resume on January 23 to 29, 2023,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Okoye said the commission 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 will face disciplinary action and/or prosecution,” he said.
Similarly, the Commission, he said, was 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,” Okoye added.
He explained that INEC has printed over 13.86 million new PVCs, but advised field officials to immediately notify their respective RECs should it emerge that some cards could not be located.