… Assures Catholic Bishops of free, fair, credible polls
Eight months after receiving the report on alleged underage voting in Kano Local Government election, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the pictures were processed.
Yakubu had in May, 2018 absolved INEC from any role in the incident when the report of its investigation committee was turned in. Though the full details of the report were not made public, the commission then pushed the whole blame on Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (SIIEC).
The National Commissioner, Abubakar Nahuche led committee, which report was made public posited that Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (SIIEC) did not use the INEC voter register to accredit voters before the elections.
Besides, INEC Chairman said the voters register were not in use in most polling units.
He, therefore, concluded that the commission was not responsible for the alleged underaged voting, as it has not been linked with the presence of underage registrants on the voter register.
But during an audience Thursday with members of the Administrative Board of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, as part of the nationwide consultation with stakeholders on the Commission’s readiness for the general elections, Yakubu said all the pictures had nothing to do with the Kano Local Government election.
His words: “there was a composite picture on social media. When we saw it, we were surprised because, before the local government election, the Commission had conducted a bye-election in the Minjibir State Constituency in Kano. In that election conducted by INEC, there was no single allegation of the prevalence of underage persons.”
Besides, the INEC Chairman observed that each of the registered political parties got a copy of the Voters’ Register since 2011 and none of them had ever complained of the prevalence of under-age voters in the Register.
He wondered: “So, what happened in the local government election conducted by a different election management body, the Kano State Independent Election Commissions (SIEC)?”
Prof. Yakubu continued: “We set up a committee to investigate it. We asked the committee to decompose the composite picture that circulated on the social media and then, we saw surprises. All the pictures (on social media) had nothing to do with the Kano local government election. Some were pictures of events that happened 11 years ago. The most interesting for me was the queue of young small boys at an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) in Bornu state. They were given handouts.
They cut the head and tail of the queue and it was presented as young persons voting in the Kano local government elections from the INEC register. Now, even if you have underage persons, you cannot have a polling unit of exclusively for underage persons. We saw this and we responded. I addressed a press conference, and when the agitation continued that we should publish the entire report of the committee, we published it online in March 2018 and since then, we have not heard a single comment.”