Investigation: Jigawa Residents May Be Disenfranchised As INEC Fails to Replace Lost PVCs

Aisha Dahiru, in Hatsu ward Miga LGA, a flood victim, lost her voter card during the flooding of her community.  But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has failed to provide her a new voter’s card despite reapplying for a replacement after her card was destroyed by the flood in 2021.

Aisha’s first registration was in 2014 but she had kept it safe until after she lost all her property to the flood which ravaged her community in 2021. She has to take the pain of reapplying for another PVC in July 2022 to be able to participate in the electoral process, but she now fears that she is about to be disenfranchised as INEC is yet to provide her voters’ card after visiting almost all the wards looking for her name.

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“I visited the INEC LGA office when the distribution of PVC started, while they couldn’t find my card, they first claimed I didn’t reapply for a new voters’ card, and it was then I provided the slip I was issued at the point of reapplying, and they assured me they will look for it, so they asked me to return after some weeks. 

“I kept visiting the office and at a point, they gave me a form to fill, I was assisted by one of the staff to fill the form and they told me that when they begin the ward-to-ward distribution, by card will be sorted out, it’s just a few days to the election INEC is yet to provide my card,” Aisha explained.

The new Electoral Act 2022 stipulates that persons whose PVCs are lost or damaged 90 days before an election date will not be eligible to vote in that election.

Part III, section 9 (6) of the Electoral Act 2022 states: “The registration of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters under this section shall stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by this Act.”

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While Section 18 of the Electoral Act 2022 states: “(1) Whenever a voter’s card is lost, destroyed, defaced, torn or otherwise damaged, the owner of a such card shall, not less than 90 days before polling day, apply in person to the electoral officer or any other officer duly authorized for that purpose by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, stating the circumstances of the loss, destruction, defacement or damage.”

Aisha is thus at a loss why INEC has been unable to issue her another PVC despite meeting all of the demands in the electoral act.

Just like Aisha, Jazuli Muhammed in Koya ward, in Miga LGA, told SOLACEBASE that he was frustrated searching for his PVC and decided that he would disrupt the election process if INEC refused to provide his card. He said he applied for a replacement about a year ago.

“I can’t be disenfranchised in my own country because of someone else’s carelessness, how will my name appear on the register, and yet my card can’t be found? I have even visited the state office and I was redirected to my LGA. I think I have done my best; I will frustrate the election process in my polling unit if they don’t provide my voter’s card for me. I won’t mind even if they arrest me on that day.

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“We are all victims of the flood; it is not our fault that we keep losing our properties to the flood whenever it comes. INEC told me that my name is on their record but yet can’t provide my PVC, that’s incompetence on the part of whoever is responsible for the missing PVC in Miga LGA,” Muhammed said in anger.

Ibrahim Danjuma, LGA INEC officer in Miga town confirmed that many of the people lost their PVCs to flood but could not remember details of their registrations, which has made it more difficult to replace.

He said, “Most of the cases of missing PVC are from victims of the flood, most of them must have changed their ward and polling unit during the time of reapplying and they can’t find the slip we gave them.

“We have resolved some of the cases, and we assure them that all will be resolved in the shortest possible time to avoid disenfranchisement of anyone.”

Some residents lament how they found their names on the register in other wards and polling units different from their place of residence when they were reapplying for replacement.

Talatu DanAli, in Sabaru ward Kazaure LGA, narrated his pain, frustration, and the number of resources and time he spent searching for his PVC across Kazaure LGA after the commission couldn’t provide his voters’ card and didn’t assure him of providing it before the elections.

“I kept visiting the INEC office almost every day for about one month, I was hoping they will find it or give me some assurance, they tasked me to go to Dutse which is about 150 kilometers from Kazaure, I went, spent my hard-earned scarce resources and yet nothing to show for my efforts, the commission has failed to take responsibility of my missing PVC and they are not making any effort to salvage the situation.

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“My worry is that I don’t know if the commission will devise a way to allow us to vote on the election day or this is how I am going to miss out on the election,” Dan Ali asked.

Another resident, Rukkaya Sani, from Ba’auzini ward in Kazaure LGA, who was sighted at a PVC collection center near Kazaure police station, narrated how she missed out from been selected as a party agent just because she didn’t have a voter card.

“I was nominated for the party agent role for the People’s Democratic Party, but when it was time for selection, I was asked to go and bring my voters’ card, this would have been an opportunity for me because I need the money. I have been coming here ever since with the hope of good news, but INEC is yet to give me any,” Sani said.

Bala Ahmed, Kazaure LGA INEC officer in charge of PVC distribution described the incidents as unfortunate, saying the commission is finding a way out of the situation.

“No eligible voter deserves to be disenfranchised either by themselves or by the commission, we are saddened that some people are yet to find their PVC, meanwhile, the commission might come up with a solution with the BIVAS machine”, he said.

We Don’t Swallow PVC

During a visit by SOLACEBASE to the commission’s headquarters in Dutse, the state capital, Faruk Ibrahim, the Public Relations Officer described INEC as a transparent commission that is careful with voters’ data, stating that issues of misplaced PVC are mostly not the case.

He said, “When information is properly entered, when requesting for a replacement of a new card, the commission will ensure they give you a slip as evidence when coming to collect it, so that means we are discrete in data collection and processing, we don’t swallow PVCs.

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“There are many reasons why voters’ cards might be missing, and when these reasons are obvious, it becomes difficult for the commission to find how to resolve such an issue and one of them is when they can’t even provide the slip they were given or any evidence of ownership. You know we can’t issue out PVC just like that.”

BVAS As Solution

The national continuous voter registration portal, reveals the provisions for those with issues of missing PVC.

The portal provides that anyone with issues of misplaced PVC can confirm their names on the portal and copy the last 5 digits of their VIN which can be presented on the day of the election.

The number would be accepted by the BVAS machine for the purpose of accreditation.

This republished report was done with support from Civic Media Lab.

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