The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has given explanations on why they registered underage persons in some parts of the country. The Commission says underage voters are being registered because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.
This was revealed by the Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, on Wednesday during a programme on African Independent Television’s (AIT) ‘Kakaaki.’
Osazze-Uzzi, in his response to the question on why youngsters were spotted in pictures and videos on the social media registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in. The INEC director said,
“I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”
Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise. He also added that some parents would come with their children with the claim that they are over 18 years and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children. The INEC director said,
“Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.
“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”
Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.