The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will ensure that no registered voters are disenfranchised in the 2019 general elections on the account of their displacement by circumstances beyond their control.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance at the “Validation Conference on the Framework for Internally Displaced Persons Voting’’ held on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that proper democracy and credible elections could only take place where they were inclusive and participatory, and where citizens were not disenfranchised.
He said that the commission had in the 2015 general elections encountered some challenges in ensuring that the IDPs voted, essentially in three Northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
He said: “This time around it appears that the displacement resulting in a number of citizens not residing in a place where they registered to vote has led to much wider displacement than it was the case in 2015.
“We interacted with the Resident Electoral Commissioners. At the moment we are looking at about fifteen States and for where for varieties of reasons, citizens are not leaving in places where they are domiciled.
“Some as a result of insurgency affecting some States in the North-East; some as a result of farmers and herdsmen clashes especially in North-Central, others by banditry in the North-West, especially in Zamfara.
“Others by environmental factors and natural disaster including flooding affecting a number of states, at least five states not too long ago. All these led to displacement of some citizens who are now residing in IDPs camps.”
The chairman said that the commission had already held series of meetings with its RECs, and had also invited all of them to meet with members of IDPs Voting Committee to validate the document for IDPs voting.
The Country Director, International Foundation for Election Systems, Uloma Ozuala, said that the conference was one of the efforts targeted at increased participation of IDPs in the voting process.
Ozuala said: “This will also provide the electoral stakeholders with the opportunity to contribute to IDPs voting framework developed by INEC with support from IFES.
“This is done to guide IDPs participation in upcoming 2019 general elections and beyond.”
She hoped that the workshop would enrich the IDPs voting framework and contribute to INEC commitment to conduct inclusive and credible elections in 2019 and beyond.
She also expressed IFES continued commitment in supporting the commission in finalising the implementation and evaluation of the IDPs voting framework.