Underaged voters who show up at polling units in February will be arrested along with their parents and prosecuted, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned.
Such ineligible voters will be charged for committing electoral fraud and their parents for aiding and abetting them.
INEC National Commissioner and Information and Voter Education Committee Chairman Festus Okoye sounded the warning on Arise TV where he also reiterated buying PVCs is a useless exercise because they do not contain data.
“We have made it very clear that any visibly underaged person should not approach any of our polling units on Election Day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture,” he said.
“Those who are harvesting Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of registered voters are doing that in futility.
“Why are they harvesting and buying off VINs when those VINs were published in our local government areas and in our registration areas when we displayed the voter registers for claims and objections? Those VINs are there.
“We have made it very clear that this Commission will deploy the BVAS for voters’ identification and authentication and the data of every registered voter in Nigeria per polling unit is domiciled in the BVAS and not in the PVCs.”
Publication of voter register
Okoye said INEC would publish the register of voters that will be used for the 2023 election on 16 January, according to reporting by The Nation.
“Our voter register is robust and we believe that it is very credible. As of today, we have 93.5 registered voters in the register.
“On the 16th of January 2023, the Commission will publish the official register of voters that will be used for the 2023 general election.
“Yes, I completely agree that there have been issues around underaged registration.
“In some of the areas where we recorded underaged registration, we have summoned all the officers that engaged in that particular exercise to appear before the Commission and appear before a special panel of the Commission and it is still ongoing.
“We have made it very clear that any visibly underaged person should not approach any of our polling units on election day.
“If the person does appear, he or she would be arrested, alongside their parents for aiding and abetting such a venture.
“The Chairman [Mahmood Yakubu] has told Nigerians that the cleaning of the voter register is an ongoing venture and we are going to make sure that all malicious registrations that got into our register will be removed prior to Election Day.
“Some of the information on social media relating to underaged registration was carried out between 2011 and before we went into the 2019 general election.
“This Commission had the courage to publish the voter register and asked Nigerians to scrutinise the register to make sure that every malicious registration is removed.
“We assure Nigerians that the voter register that will be used in the 2023 election is the one that they will be proud of.”