Underage Voters and Other Highlights in INEC’s Voter Register

November 15, 2022

Nearly four months after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ended its last batch of voter registrations, it has released the official register of confirmed voters. 

I have taken a closer look at the register so you don’t have to. To help you, here are some of the major highlights, with context.  

An explanation of Nigeria’s voter count (2019-till date)

During the last election year (2019), Nigeria had 84 million voters.  The 2023 INEC voter register shows that the voter count has increased by 9,518,188, bringing the new count to  93.5 million

It was also announced in October 2022 that 12.29 million voters had successfully completed their registration while 2.78 million voters were removed as ineligible voters. 

Now that you know the basics, let’s look at what stood out for us in the register:

Delisted southern voters

When we looked at the register, the math was not ‘mathing’ for the South-South and South-East regions.

In the South-South

Bayelsa, a state with a small population of about 2.5 million people, had the highest number of deregistered voters in the country with 307,513 out of 444,652 new voters.

That means 69.2 percent of the people in Bayelsa committed some “registration crimes” as stated by INEC. But this is a huge number for any state with such a small population. How true could this be?

Rivers 

With the population of Rivers State at 9.5million, almost half of the state was recorded as new voters with 3.5 million voters as of October 2022. But when INEC decided to clean up its data, 33 percent of that voter population was cut. 

In the South-East

Abia state has a population of 3.7 million people. According to INEC’s voters’ register, 72, 657 registrations were invalid out of 196,683 total registrations. 

If there was a second position prize for deregistered voters in Nigeria, it would go to Ebonyi with 240,063 invalid registrations. Only  161,447 voters made the cut.

In Enugu, 61,261 out of 243,656 were deregistered.

Northern voters were hardly deregistered

The North seems to have it great, as they have the lowest percentage of invalid voters

In Zamfara, only 11.2 percent of voters were invalid out of 238,649 new voters. Overall, the total number of new voters in the north was 12.2 million, with 9.5 million valid voters and 2.7 invalid voters. 

There were some errors with Northern voter registrations

States like Jigawa had some clearly underage voters in the register with fake dates of birth, like this Hajara that was born in 1996 for example.

There was also double counting with some of the voters, as some appeared on the list 3 times.

What are people and INEC saying about this?

On the streets, it seems like INEC and the people have two conflicting ideologies. 

Public opinion isn’t having this, as they believe that there are conspiracies. Some don’t trust INEC to conduct a free and fair election.

INEC has stood its ground, noting that the registration process was thorough as removals were due to double/multiple, underaged and fake registrations that failed to meet the rules of the last Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise. 

INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said: “At the end of the exercise, 12,298,944 Nigerians successfully completed the registration as new voters. All along, we have repeatedly assured Nigerians that our process of cleaning up the register is robust.”

But would you see this after a “robust” voter registration exercise?

The commissioner for information and voter education of INEC, Festus Okoye, backed up his buddy Yakubu to emphasize that the point of releasing the register online. This was for citizens to make their “claims and objections.” 

How can the errors impact the 2023 elections?

Errors such as double-counting give the voter the opportunity to vote twice for a candidate, which is considered electoral fraud under the 2022 Electoral Act

Underage voting is also a crime, as it could lead to one region having more representation for a candidate than others. The law states that a person must be 18 and above before he/she is considered eligible for voting. Section 117 of the 2022 Electoral Act also gives a punishment of 12 months imprisonment or a minimum of N1 million for unqualified citizens who apply for registrations.

What to do if you spot errors in the register

When the name of a registered voter has been omitted or needs corrections, pick up the complaint forms at registration areas and Local Government Area (LGA)

Wards

To know your preferred LGA according to location, click the link here

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