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Under age voters: INEC not probing Kano SIEC – Prof. Yakubu

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has named Engineer Abubakar Nahuche, as the chairman of the eight-man committee to investigate the alleged incident of underage voters in the recent Local Government election in Kano State.

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Professor Yakubu announced the membership of the committee on Wednesday in Abuja at the INEC headquarters when he received the executive members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON) led by their chairman, Justice Igbozuruike Akoma.

He said the committee, which had Mr Jude Chikezie as secretary , also had Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu (national commissioner); Barrister Mike Igini (REC, Akwa Ibom); Barrister Kassim Geidam (REC, Adamawa); Yakubu Duku; Mrs Rukayat Bello and Mr Paul Omokore as members.

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The INEC chairman said the committee, which had two weeks to submit its report, was not investigating the conduct or outcome of the local government election by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KSIEC).

He said the terms of reference that shall guide the committee included the need to “ascertain if the voter register requested by the KSIEC was actually used in the local government election”.

Professor Yakubu, who added that the committee shall also “investigate the widespread report that persons below the statutory age of 18 years voted using INEC’s register”, stated that they would “engage with the stakeholders on issues related to the use of the voter register in the election”.

He also said that the team shall “make any other recommendations which in the opinion of the committee were relevant to its assignment”.

The INEC chairman, who assured the FOSIECON delegation that the commission was ready to partner with State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), stressed the need to review the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the two separate electoral bodies signed in 2012.     

“New areas of cooperation need to be explored, including ways of strengthening the independence of SIECs and systematically building the capacity of election management bodies in Nigeria to conduct elections that meet national and international standards of acceptability and credibility.

“As an immediate step going forward, the joint INEC/SIECs Interactive Committee will be reconstituted immediately and shall henceforth be meeting regularly. Similarly, the quarterly meetings between INEC and SIECs shall be reactivated immediately. The first meeting for this year will take place next month.

“INEC will continue to improve on our processes and procedures. We are totally committed to the task of strengthening our electoral process. Where we have cause to review aspects of our collaboration, we will not hesitate to do so. One such area is the alleged incidence of underage voting in the recent Local Government election in Kano State,” said Professor Yakubu.

Earlier, the chairman of FOSIECON, Justice Akomas, had said that the courtesy visit of the Forum new leadership was meant to re-awaken the tenets of the existing MoU to achieve the core objective of conducting free, fair and credible elections at all levels.

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