CVR: INEC Says ‘Fear Of Death’ Hindering Registration In South East

Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, has blamed the activities of ‘unknown gunmen’ for the commission’s failure to efficiently capture residents of the South East region in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Oyekanmi said due to ‘fear of death’, INEC’s CVR agents have been unable to do a thorough job of ensuring that as many South East residents that present themselves for the exercise are registered.

The INEC chairman’s media aide stated this in response to a question put to him on the commission’s WhatsApp group on Wednesday.

A member of the group, Sunny Igboanugo, had asked why INEC was not registering people in the South East, especially in Nnewi North, Aguata and Njikoka, among other areas.

Igboanugo noted that for several months, “People will go to the registration centers and come back without any response.”

Checks by THE WHISTLER showed that the South-East is lagging in the ongoing fresh voter registration exercise with 584,625 completed registrations, according to the latest CVR update released by INEC on June 6, 2022.

The South-South is leading with 1,598,730 registered voters, while the South West has 1,299,453 new registered voters.

Others are the North West with 1,325,717, North Central with 1,257,004, and North East with 890,723 completed fresh registrations.

INEC CVR update released on June 6, 2022

However, Oyekanmi attributed the low figure recorded in the South East to attacks on INEC officials in the region.

He recalled that “On 14th April 2022, our staff with the Imo State office of the Commission, Mr Anthony Nwokorie, was shot dead by “unknown gunmen” at Nkwo Ihitte (PU 004), Amakohia Ward, Registration Area 02, under the Ihitte Uboma LGA in Imo State. Two other staff members working with him were also seized.

“Their offence? The intruders said that there will be no general election in the South East in 2023, therefore, INEC officials should stop conducting the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).”

Oyekanmi said the incidents forced INEC to suspend the CVR in 54 centres that had been created to facilitate the CVR in Imo State.

He noted, “This sad incident has understandably created fear among our staff in the entire south east zone. While the CVR is continuing across the region, the terrible security situation there, known to all Nigerians, is a serious concern.

“The threats to our staff have not stopped. They are still being warned by the same “unknown gunmen” not to register citizens across the region. While our staff are prepared to do their job, it should not be at the expense of their lives. Nwokorie is somebody’s son, father, husband, brother. He is yet to be buried. He does not deserve to die the way he did. We are very sad that he was killed unjustly by a band of criminals.”

Oyekanmi further criticized residents of the region for demining it fit to commiserate with INEC over its official that that was killed by the gunmen.

“With the fear of death hanging in the air, and unrelenting threats/warnings coming to our staff every day in the region, which individual will not be afraid?

“Nevertheless, the Commission will continue to do its best to register voters within the prevailing circumstances,” he added.

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