The eight-man committee investigating underage voting in Kano State, SaharaReporters has gathered, may have started working to cover up the widely reported anomaly, which was alleged to have occurred in the recently concluded council polls in the state.
Sources at the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja told SaharaReporters that some of the committee’s recommendations on the matter have been slated for rejection or being watered down as a way of covering up underage voters in the electoral registry.
Social and mainstream media were recently awash with pictures of kids dropping ballot papers in ballot boxes at polling booths said to be in Kano.
Two days after the committee began sitting in Kano, the chairman of the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC), Professor Garba Ibrahim Sheka, denied that the images of kids seen voting were not captured in Kano State. He argued that the pictures could not have been taken in the state because card readers were not used in the council polls.
“We saw in a video clip, posted by those complaining that kids voted in the 2018 council polls held in Kano State. However, we quickly noticed that they were using card readers. Unfortunately for the mischief makers, KANSIEC did not use card readers throughout the conduct of that election.
But upon noticing the outcry in the media, we were able to trace the source and we defended ourselves adequately when the committee set up by INEC later arrived the state to investigate how small kids were allowed to vote during the exercise.”
“In fact, we had publicized our stand not to use the card reader to the listening ability of most people in this country,” Professor Sheka told a national daily.
INEC also followed up with a denial. However, the denial, which won the commission some breathing space, has since been shredded, raising questions about the integrity of Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, INEC Chairman.
The commission itself has reported incidences of underage registration in Taraba State, which should compel an audit of its register nationwide.
Sources doubted the capacity of INEC under Professor Yakubu to conduct credible elections if it cannot deliver a voter registration process with fidelity.
They recalled that Professor Attahiru Jega, immediate past INEC boss, enjoyed public goodwill because he never shied away from admitting the commission’s shortcomings while in office. They gave an example of the two postponements of the 2011 elections because vendors could not deliver sensitive materials on time.