Voters wait to cast their votes during Nigeria’s first round of elections in Jos, northern Nigeria
Abuja - The Bayelsa State Government said more than 147 000 legitimate voters in the state had been disenfranchised owing to the contentious distribution of permanent voter cards by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The government, through a statement by Fyneman Wilson, Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, explained that 147 802 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) meant for the State are yet to be released by the National Headquarters of the electoral commission less than two weeks to the Presidential polls.
Wilson described the situation as a deliberate attempt by INEC to disenfranchise Bayelsans as well as reduce the voting strength of the state to the disadvantage of incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.
He called on the leadership of INEC to, without further delay, release all the outstanding PVCs meant for the state.
According to him, failure to do so will lead to the disenfranchisement of about one-third of the eligible voters in the region.
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"This is unacceptable," Wilson said.
The Special Adviser explained that, the Continuous Voters Registration was done in May, 2014 in the State, followed by the Automatic Finger Print Identification System and the Post Business Rules, which caused a drop in the number of registered voters in the state.
He added that it was "sad" to note that out of the 503 461 registered voters, the commission in Bayelsa State had only received 462 571 PVCs, with promises to release them yet to be fulfilled by INEC headquarters.
Wilson recalled with dismay that, during the continuous voter registration exercise in May, 2014, a total of 106, 912 voters were registered in the State, but while states like Kano, Lagos, Delta and Kebbi, who had theirs in the third batch in November 2014, hade all received their PVCs, those in Bayelsa had yet to receive their PVCs.
He demanded the urgent release of the PVCs as well as a waiver of the deadline for their distribution.