The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has on Wednesday disclosed it will resume the suspended voter registration in the first quarter of 2021, Q1’21.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, made this known during an\ interview with journalists after he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC to defend his agency’s 2021 budget.
He explained that the exercise would last up to six months before the 2023 general elections.
In his words: “The Commission intend to resume voter registration in the first quarter of 2021.
“And once we resume, it will be continuous for one and half years, at least until six months to the next general election.
“In other words, the Commission is not going to resume voter registration for a week, two weeks or a month but we are working out the details.”
He also disclosed that the commission is currently involved in about 1700 pre-election and post-election court cases from 2019 general elections.
He, however, said the Commission was not paying “fantastic” legal fee, but “applying Federal Ministry of Justice scale of fees.”
“For instance, if we have a case for governorship election before the supreme court, it’s a maximum of N4.5 million, but because of the number of cases, we are almost getting close to 1700 pre-election and post-election cases in 2019 alone, and everyday you hear people going to court and joining INEC, but we will continue to do what we can within available resources,” he added.
Earlier during the budget defence, Yakubu told the lawmakers that the Commission planned to withdraw N5.2 billion from its N10 billion INEC Fund to augment its 2020 budget.
He said commission had not spent from the fund since it was established in 2010, noting that the withdrawal was necessitated by the cut in its 2020 budget.
“What has happened now is, our budget for 2020 dropped to N40bn from N45.5bn in 2019.
“And as a result of the 10% COVID cut, it further dropped to N36bn in the middle of the year when we had already made preparation for expenditure, and therefore, since that fund is made for the rainy days, I informed the committee that the rainy day has come.
“So we are taking part of the fund to balance our budget for this year,” he said.
On diaspora voting, he said the Commission was desirous of giving Nigerians living abroad the right to vote, but it requires the amendment to the constitution and the Electoral Act for that to happen.
“We have already worked out the document. Once the law is amended today, we can roll out. We are ready.
“We have had several meetings with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) but we can’t go beyond what the law provides,” he said.
On some groups, who are disenfranchised because they are involved in election duty, he said until the electoral legal framework is reformed to allow people to vote wherever they are, they will continue to be denied voting right.