From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
Lagosians, in their hundreds, yesterday took their grievance to the Lagos office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the shoddy distribution of the permanent voter’s cards, PVC, in the state.
The protesters stormed the state INEC’s office with placards protesting the attempt to disenfranchise Lagosians, by allegedly hoarding the PVCs.
The protesters chanted solidarity songs and vowed that they would never allow elections to be rigged in the state.
The protesters, who are members of Activists for Good Governance (AGG) and The Nucleus Group (TNG), in a separate protest carried placards and blocked the road leading to INEC’s office.
AGG coordinator, Comrade Declan Ihekaire said Nigerians were afraid that INEC was planning to rig next year’s election, especially in states controlled by the All Progressives Congress, APC, which informed the hoarding of the PVCs from getting to the people.
“2015 is here already and any attempt to disenfranchise Nigerians will mark the beginning of action. What we see is that INEC is short of staff and you are already being nicknamed as trying to rig the election next year.
“INEC must ensure that the PVCs get to the people and they should not attempt to rig the election. Those in power know that there will be protest votes in 2015 and that is why they are trying to rig the election,” he said.
On his part, TNG Coordinator, Comrade Olusola Odubiro called on INEC to extend the exercise by two weeks so that all Lagosians would get their PVCs.
He lamented that the performance of INEC in the ongoing exercise had been so poor, as only one INEC officer is assigned to one polling unit with lots of people queuing to get their PVCs.
According to him, TNG is suspecting foul play by the powers that be to rig the election in Lagos next year.
Addressing the protesters Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, Adekunle Ogunmola admitted that the agency had been encountering problems in the distribution of the PVCs in Lagos, but assured that by the time it completes the exercise, every Lagosian duly registered would get his or her PVC.
“Our intention is to ensure all registered voters in Lagos state get their PVCs before the 2015 elections. There have been hiccups; we are only distributing materials given to us. On the 1.4 million voters removed from the list, we have reasons for that.
“In Mushin on Sunday, we have distributed PVCs to 529 polling units. By the time we complete the 11 Local governments, all will be captured. We are also doing continuous voter registration to capture everybody,” he said.