The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it is looking into claims of official extortion of anxious registered voters waiting to pick up their PVCs as well as employee corruption, promising to punish or prosecute offenders.
The reported discriminatory PVC issuance in several jurisdictions has also drawn strong criticism from the commission, which maintained that such actions were against the law.
The deadline for PVC collection in Wards and Registration Areas around the country has also been extended by the commission to January 29.
Barrister Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, said the Commission is heartened by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country.
“In some of the States, as many as 100,000 PVCs were collected in the last five days since the devolution to Ward level started on Friday 6th January 2023” he said.
He said that the Commission is determined to ensure that registered voters have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the forthcoming election, hence the extension of the timeframe for collection of PVCs by eight days.
” Instead of ending on Sunday 22nd January 2023, the collection of PVCs will continue until Sunday 29th January 2023. At the moment, the period of collection is 9.00am – 3.00pm daily (including Saturdays and Sundays).
“Collection at Registration Area (Ward) level is extended by one a week from Monday 16th – Sunday 22nd January 2023.
“Collection at Local Government level will resume on Monday 23rd – Sunday 29th January 2023” he said , in a statement.
The Commission, he said it is “investigating allegations of extortion by officials at some of the collection centres and inducement by some unscrupulous voters to circumvent processes in order to obtain their PVCs. Those found culpable will face disciplinary action and/or prosecution.
“Similarly, the Commission is disturbed by allegations of discriminatory issuance of PVCs in some locations. This is against the law. All bonafide registrants are entitled to their PVCs and to use them to vote on Election Day in any part of the country where they are registered. Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been directed to ensure that no such practices occur nationwide and take immediate disciplinary action against violators.
“For the record, the Commission has printed 13,868,441 PVCs for all new valid registrants as well as applicants for transfer or replacement of cards. Nevertheless, issuing officers should compile any complaints about non-availability of cards and forward them to their immediate supervisors for the attention of Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) who shall compile and forward them for necessary action.
“The Commission once again appreciates the patience and perseverance of citizens as we continue to finetune our process to make the collection of PVCs easier”.