The Independent National Electoral Commission has sought to allay public worries over the credibility of Nigeria’s future elections after pictures of underage voters emerged from last Saturday’s local polls in Kano State.
Observers, including the Centre for Information Technology And Development, CITAD, and Action Aid International Nigeria, said they witnessed voting by underage citizens during the elections.
Then, still and motion pictures of underage citizens taking part in the electoral process allegedly during the polls in Kano have been circulating on the social media since Saturday, fueling wild concerns such irregularities could have negative implications for the general elections, about one year away.
However, in a statement by a spokesperson, Oluwole Uzzi, on Tuesday, INEC said the disturbing pictures did not relate to any election it conducted or had responsibility for, thereby allaying fears over its capacity for credible elections.
INEC is statutorily empowered to conduct all Nigeria’s elections, except the ones to the local government councils conducted by the electoral commissions in each state.
Acknowledging the pictures of the underage voters, the commission stated that “as far as we can ascertain, they (the pictures) relate to a local government election conducted at the weekend (in Kano)”.
“While the Commission remains resolute in our commitment to sanitise the nation’s electoral process and deliver free, fair and credible elections, we cannot be held directly or vicariously liable for a process outside our legal purview,” INEC said.
“Our our part, INEC assures the public that we are doing all we can to ensure a credible election.”
However, INEC’s assurance may be doubted if it becomes established that the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, KANSIEC, used the national commission’s voters’ register and the pictured underage voters were accredited using that.