By Lateef Ibrahim Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has set up an eight-member committee to investigate the alleged incidence of under-aged voting in the recently conducted local government election in Kano State.
The committee, which has Engr Abubakar Nabuche, a National Commissioner with INEC, as chairman, is expected to fully investigate the allegation of under-aged persons in the voter register with a view to establishing whether the claim is true or not.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, announced the setting up of the committee yesterday in Abuja while playing host to the executive members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions (FOSIECOM) during a courtesy call on him in Abuja.
The committee, which has two weeks to submit its report, is also expected to ascertain if the voter register requested by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission was actually used in the conduct of the said election, as well as investigate the widespread report that persons below the statutory age of 18 years voted using INEC register.
The INEC chairman further said that the investigative committee members are required to engage with stakeholders on issues related to the use of the Voter register in the said election and make recommendations which, in the opinion of the committee are relevant to its assignment.
Prof Yakubu assured that INEC will continue to improve on its processes and procedures.
According to him, “We are totally committed to the task of strengthening our electoral process. Where we have cause to review our collaboration (with FOSIECOM members), we will not hesitate to do so”.
He assured the FOSIECOM members that INEC is always ready to partner with SIECs, assuring that the existing memorandum of understanding, MoU between the two bodies needs to be reviewed as a matter of utmost urgency.
His words, “New areas of cooperation need to be explored, including ways of strengthening the Independence of the SIECs and systematically building the capacity of Election Management Bodies, EMBs, in Nigeria to conduct elections that meet international standards of acceptability and credibility”.
Prof Yakubu assured that as an immediate step going forward, the joint INEC /SIECs interactive committee will be reconstituted immediately and shall henceforth be meeting regularly.
Earlier, the Chairman of FOSIECOM, Justice Igbozurike Akomas, had lamented that the provisions of the MoU between INEC and SIECs had not been followed in the past for unexplainable reasons.