Two sources from within the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have disclosed to SaharaReporters that the voters registration figures recently released by the commission was a scam that would lead to the rigging of the forthcoming April elections.

Also, our investigations revealed that the extension of the commission’s timetable for registration was partly responsible for creating a major fiasco in the process, resulting in the scam of significantly inflated voters registration figures.

“INEC’s so-called display of names of voters at various registration centers was a distortion,” said one of our sources, a member of the technical team at the electoral body. He added, “The displayed figures represented raw registration data that had not been subjected to the mandated system of aggregation and verification known as Automatic Finger Identification System (AFIS).” AFIS is supposed to vet the commission’s roll of voters downloaded from the Direct Data Capture machines. One of our INEC sources said that, if the commission’s officials in the states had conducted the AFIS audit as required by the registration process, each of the states would have come up with three sets of voters register.

1-Valid register—those with proper registration with all biometrics in place
2. AO-Valid—representing cases where fingerprints and other biometrics were not captured
3. An invalid Register—which identifies those with multiple registrations.
Our investigations reveal that INEC officials in Cross Rivers were the only ones who conducted AFIS by last Thursday. “Certain politicians in Cross River tried to pressure Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, to display the raw data of registered voters, but he resisted,” said a source, Olasupo Ojo, on Lagos-based Channels tv.  Mr.  Ojo, of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) stated that Cross Rivers successfully conducted AFIS which took several days to complete. Ojo monitored the Cross Rivers state processing

Our investigations show that, after AFIS was implemented in Cross Rivers, the number of registered voters from the state’s 18 local government areas went down from 1.7 million, which INEC had originally announced in Abuja, to approximately one million valid voters. “The same trend would have been revealed if each state ran the AFIS program,” said a source, adding that inflated numbers “are a kind of raw material for politicians who are determined to rig.” Another INEC source said that “the risk of allowing false voters’ numbers is that politicians with a lot of cash can buy those phantom voters from unscrupulous INEC officials.”

Our sources revealed that many voters registered as many as five times across the country. AFIS is a checks and balances technology to identify and weed those who fraudulently engaged in multiple registrations, said one of our sources.

One source said part of the problem was the commission’s investment of more time in registration. INEC’s voter registration timetable was originally scheduled to end on January 29. But the registration was marred by so many logistical problems that the commission sought and got additional legislative approval to extend the registration by nine days.

 The additional days that the commission spent on continued registration “ate into the time INEC was supposed to devote to the aggregation and dis-aggregation of its raw data of registered voters to ensure that its figures are not inflated,” said the source.

One of INEC’s technical experts said the commission’s failure to run AFIS across the states has led it to come up with a bogus number of registered voters. “Apart from Cross River, every other state now boasts incorrect data,” said one source, adding that the data audit was essential in order to close a loophole that rogue politicians would strive to exploit. “If the forthcoming elections are not to be compromised, then let’s get a true picture of the number of voters,” he said.

“It’s a violation of the electoral laws to engage in multiple registrations, underage registration and other fraudulent conduct, yet the case of Cross River proves that hundreds of thousands of voters were duplications.” 
Several observers have accused INEC of preparing to resort to the use of manual registers—which include a high percentage of questionable voters, including those induced by politicians to register multiple times.
 
A political analyst told SaharaReporters that Nigerians would soon wake up to former INEC chairman Maurice Iwu demanding apologies if the current scam scales through. Mr. Iwu was widely berated for presiding over the 2007 elections that shattered records for electoral fraud and manipulation.

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