High drama nationwide characterized the last day for eligible voters to be captured by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for issuance of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to participant in next year’s general elections.
Findings by Daily Trust Saturday at various registration centres in Bauchi which include Kofar Ran, Kobi Primary School and Kofar Fada revealed that many people expressed dissatisfaction with the process as they spent days coming to the centres.
In one of the centres, drama ensued when a policeman tried to “smuggle” some people to be registered, and one of the staff prevented him. An official at Kofar Ran INEC office was overheard making frantic telephone calls for additional computers and fingerprint machines to be brought to the center.
Underhand dealings were said to have been allegedly witnessed at most of the centers as people connected to some of the staff conducting registration were said to have allegedly hijacked the process. Some suspects were also allegedly arrested selling forms for between N200 to N500 to unsuspecting people desperate to be registered.
However the Bauchi State Police Command spokesperson, DSP Datti Abubakar, said that he was not aware of the arrests.
Heavy downpour, confusion characterised last day of voter registration Imo State. In Owerri, the capital, there was confusion, as eligible voters scrambled to get their names into the list.
The rain, which started at about 12.30 noon, was still pouring as at 5pm.
The Electoral Officer for Owerri Municipal Council, Mr Andrew Ereforokuma, told Daily Trust Saturday that the rush was not unexpected.
In Gombe metropolis, it was revealed that some people spent over 10 hours on queue. At INEC office, it was learnt that prospective registrants, mostly women joined queue as early as 3am with a hope to get registered before the 5pm deadline.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that people spent hours on queue without getting registered, citing malpractice, harassment and slow pace on the part of INEC staff.
The Public Affairs Officer of the INEC in Gombe, Mr Bigun Emmanuel Mohorret, said in the last two weeks when the deadline was extended to August 31, over 25, 173 people were registered.
In Kaduna, our correspondents who visited Kawo, Ungwan Dosa, Badarawa and Kaduna North registration centers observed long queues of eligible voters hoping to get registered.
Some residents said they have been on the queue since Monday and are yet to collect registration forms while others said they came to the registrations centers as early as 4am on Friday just to get registered but are yet to make any progress. It was observed that uniformed men are using their position to harass and jump queues to the detriment of others.
A resident, Blessing Bala, said she came to the Kaduna North Local Government registration at 4am, but a soldier “just strolled in” at 12noon with his family and they were registered.
At a PVC registration point at Kujama in Chikun Local Government Area, residents decried what they described as time wastage, saying they spend too much time on queue without achieving their aim.
INEC in Cross River compounded the problems and travails of potential registrants because many of the centres that registered voters were closed. In much of Calabar, people from distant places had to scramble at the only two centres at Target Street and Marian Road opposite Akim Army Barracks to see how they could be registered.
In the Calabar Municipality, the case was the same as many of the residents had to travel to the state headquarters of INEC to queue.
But it was contrary to what the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Frank land Briyai that INEC authorised 11 extra mobile registration centres in many hinterlands and urban centres. Many prospective voters had to struggle, fight and intimidate INEC officials and ad hoc staff in order to get registered.
Unfortunately, thousands of illegible voters may go without obtaining their PVCs in Zamfara State. Our correspondent who visited some of the registration centers in the saw many people waiting for their turn.
At a registration centre in Government Day Secondary School, Danturai voters, mostly women, were waiting in frustration to register. Dozens of urchins ran off with registration forms, with some people chasing them.
Prospective voters in Bayelsa State kept vigil at the INEC office and other registration points in the state capital to beat the deadline for the exercise, but faced frustration.
At INEC office in Yenagoa Local Government Area at Onopa, many people were locked outside the gate, while few whose names appear top on the list are allowed into the premises in tranches of ten.
Some of the registrants who spoke with Daily Trust Saturday claimed that the reason for the last-minute rush was that INEC did not provide adequate equipment for the exercise.
Our correspondent who monitored the registration process in Jos South LGA found that many people came out to meet up with the registration before the closing time. They defied the heavy rain and waited until they were all captured. The voters as well as the INEC staff were drenched, but all were determined to finish before the 5:00pm deadline.
As soon as it was 4:30 pm, an INEC staff announced that they had 30 minutes more to go and that they should hurry up. But barely 10 minutes after his announcement, the last person was registered and the whole staff began jubilating. They shook hands, hugged, and congratulated each other.
There was high turnout of people in Dutse and Birnin Kudu LGAs of Jigawa State who wanted to take advantage of the last day of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise to be registered.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that similar high turnout of eligible voters was recorded in many parts of the state, though there were complaints that the exercise moved slowly. The most impressive part, in Birnin Kudu, was the orderliness observed by the voters awaiting registration.
In Kwara State, a lot of drama ensued between INEC officials and eligible voters. Observation from some of the registration centres showed that many people arrived as early as 3:00am without been attended to until 9:00am, since INEC officials usually arrive at the centre by 8:00am. Some of the centers were locked to prevent rowdiness.
Meanwhile, Founder of a group, Community Outreach Advocacy, Capacity Building and Health (COACH) Aisha Ahman Pategi decried the inability of many of its residents in Patigi to register.
The exercise in Maiduguri, Borno State, was expectedly characterized by the expected last-hour rush, evident when the Borno REC, Alhaji Mohammed Magaji, came on an assessment tour of some of the centres in the Maiduguri and Jere LGAs. However, in spite of the long queues, no brawls and bribery incidents were reported.
In Damaturu, Yobe State, many returned home unregistered. “We migrated from our communities due to the insurgency, and the number of intending voters has become so large that INEC could not cover us even with the date being extended,” a resident, Ali Bulama, said.
But the REC in Yobe, Alhaji Ahmad Makama, suspected double registration of voters based on his interviews with some registrants in Damaturu center.
Many residents of Zaria found on the queue waiting to be registered as voters yesterday blamed themselves for their inability to take advantage of the continuous voter registration exercise that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) started over a year ago.
Hajiya Hauwa Ahmad, a resident of Kofar Gayan, Zaria, said she lost her PVC in a fire.
An elderly lady who gave her name as Adama Ibrahim told our correspondent that she has been visiting the Danmagaji, Zaria registration centre for the past four days, but able-bodied men and women always pushed her back. “But I simply must register,” she said, in defiance of the drama around her.