The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday hinted that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are to vote in 15 states of the country in the 2019 general elections.
LEADERSHIP reports that the number of displaced persons expected to vote at the IDPs camps in the 2019 general elections increased from the three Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to 15 states, cutting across North West, North Central and the Southeastern part of the country.
It was gathered that the circumstances that led to the displacement of people in 15 states is as a result of insurgency in the North East, farmers herders clashes in north central, banditary in the North West and communal conflicts and environmental issues in the Southeast.
Out of the 15 states with IDPs that are to vote in the 2019 general elections, majority are from: Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Zamfara, Kaduna Anambra, Ebonyi, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, Cross River, and Benue states.
But speaking at a Stakeholders’ validation conference on the framework for IDPs’ voting, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said no registered voter will be left out in the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu who said that neither displacement nor disability would be a barrier for the Nigerian voters, added that it was worrisome that the commission has more displaced persons that will vote in 2019 than what happened in the 2015 general elections.
“We have 15 states with displaced persons that need to vote in the 2019 general elections,” Yakubu said adding that these electorates are not living in normal places as a result of the insurgency, farmers /herders and communal clashes, and environmental factors. “I want to assure Nigerians that they will not be disenfranchised,” Yakubu said insisting that Nigerians should expect free and fair elections in 2019.
“We have afforded many of them the opportunity to register. Those who registered in 2015, we advised them not to register again and we printed their cards,” Yakubu said of the efforts the commission made to ensure that voting takes place at the IDPs’ camps in 2019.
The head of the INEC’s committee on IDPs’ voting, Prof Okechukwu Ibeanu said they activated an existing legal framework that was used by the commission in the 2015 general elections.
According to Ibeanu, the framework has been enhanced so that people can participate in the election at the IDPs’ camps.
He said INEC developed a skeleton plan in 2015 that helped the three North Eastern states IDPs to vote adding that the amendment to the Electoral Act that was signed into law helped immensely in giving credence to IDPs’ voting.
Ibeanu said the amendment of section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act, helped the displaced persons’ voting right.
“It created an inclusive system,” Ibeanu said of the section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act which INEC pursued to ensure that IDPs vote in all the elections.
“We reviewed the 2015 framework and improved on it. It was not just a committee by INEC members alone, but included other stakeholders,” Ibeanu said of the framework for IDPs’ voting that was reviewed yesterday.
“Three documents were produced. The report of the committee, framework and the third document was a set of regulation to bring the framework into effect.
“The amendment to section 26 (1) needs a clear regulations not just the present, but for the future election,” Ibeanu added.
He said that they adopted Intra-state and inter state categorizations of the displaced persons adding that IDPs outside the states of their registration can only vote in the presidential election.
He said they made the voting pattern that way because of the challenges of results collation and the difficulties in organising the election.
“That is why IDPs outside the states of their registration can only vote in the presidential election,” Ibeanu said adding that they are embarking on stakeholders’ engagement, voter education and publicity for IDPs’ camps voting rights.
The representative of International Federation for Electoral System (IFES), an organisation supporting INEC to conduct a credible election, Uloma Osuala said they would ensure a smooth voting in the IDPs’ camps.