2023 polls: Why many South-East residents may be disenfranchised

As Nigerians prepare to elect new leaders in the forthcoming general elections, a state of uncertainty still pervades the South-East.

This is as some residents of the zone are unable to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards, PVCs, following attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, offices.

DAILY POST reports that the unknown gunmen wreaking havoc in the Southeast had repeatedly attacked INEC offices in the region, leading to the destruction of PVCs and other important documents.

According to data published by the commission two weeks ago, at least 50 attacks have been recorded on INEC facilities across 15 States in the last four years.

Most of the attacks occurred in the Southeast in the last two years, with the daredevil gunmen vowing that no election would be conducted in the region in 2023.

Imo State recorded the highest attacks in the country with eleven incidents, while Enugu recorded five; Ebonyi four, Abia four; Anambra, two incidents.

Twenty of the attacks were described as arson, 26 were described as vandalism, while four were said to be arson and vandalism.

DAILY POST gathered on Saturday that many residents of Southeast who hitherto registered for the PVC, have been unable to collect their cards.

It was learnt that the PVCs destroyed during the attacks have not been replaced, a development that may disenfranchise many voters in the region come February and March.

A resident of Imo State, who identified himself simply as Godwin I.K, told our correspondent that all efforts to collect his PVC from INEC office in Oru West Local Government Area of the State have proved abortive.

“Despite the security situation in this place, we have been making efforts to collect our PVC to participate in the coming election, but we are yet to see cards.

“I don’t know whether our cards were also destroyed during the recent attack. INEC should do whatever they can to make sure we are not left behind in the coming elections”, he stated.

Also speaking with DAILY POST, the President General of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem lamented that if the commission failed to address the situation urgently, many persons will be disenfranchised.

He said, “There are challenges in some places where gunmen had launched attacks on the INEC offices; the commission has been unable to replace the cards destroyed during the attacks. Something urgent has to be done”.

He lamented that there has been low turnout in the collection of PVCs in many parts of the region over fear of attacks by the assailants.

He said, “People have been going out to collect their PVCs but lots of the people are not joining the exercise. I just hope that before the deadline elapses, those who are yet to collect would do so.

“There are so many PVCs in the INEC office yet to be collected by their owners and this is very worrisome. The turnout for the PVC collection in Southeast is not really encouraging”.

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