INEC distances self from underage voting in Kano

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The Independent National Electoral Commission says there were no underage voters on the register it handed over to the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission to undertake the local government elections that took place last Saturday.

This comes exactly three years after INEC had accused the Kano electoral body of allowing underage persons to vote in 2018.

The Director, Voter Education, and Publicity, INEC, Nick Dazang, told news correspondents in an interview on Tuesday that the commission does not register underage voters.

Dazang told this newspaper that indeed INEC handed over its voter register to Kano State for the conduct of the local government election but added that INEC doesn’t register Nigerians below the age of 18.

The INEC director further stated that INEC conducted elections in Kano State in 2019 without reports of underage voting, adding that this was proof that its register could not have been used in the local government elections in Kano.

Responding to a question, he said, “We have made earlier clarifications in the past that our voter register does not have anyone below the age of 18 so that is that. I don’t know the voter register they used in Kano. I will have to find out but the register of voters we have and which state independent electoral commissions use cannot have anyone less than 18 years old.

“Don’t forget that we have not conducted any voter registration since the last election and it is the same register we used in the 2019 general election that we are still using because we have not added anyone and before the conduct of the last elections, we returned all uncollected PVCs to the vaults of the CBN across the state.

“And I want you to observe that we conducted elections in Kano in 2019. We conducted Presidential, governorship, state assembly and federal legislative elections in Kano and there were no reports of underage voting in 2019.”

Nigerians had last week taken to social media to lambast the Kano electoral commission for allowing children to vote in the elections that took place across the 44 local government areas in the state.

In the elections which the ruling All Progressives Congress won by a landslide, several pictures and videos circulating on social media show children said to be between the ages of nine and 16, being accredited by electoral officials wearing face masks with the KANSIEC logo.

In one of the videos, a young boy who appears to be between the age of 11 and 13, at Gwazaye polling unit, Kumbotso Local Government Area, is seen fixing his thumbprint against a party logo while other children struggle to receive their ballot papers.

The Chairman, KANSIEC, Prof. Garba Sheka, neither responded to a telephone call nor a text message.

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