The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday said the estimated three million Internally Displaced Persons would participate in the 2023 general elections.
The commission added that measures to ensure all eligible Nigerians including the IDPs exercise their franchise at the next year’s polls have been put in place.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated these in Abuja at the stakeholders validation meeting on the 2022 Revised Framework and Regulations for Voting by IDPs.
Yakubu explained that the revised framework had taken into consideration several developments since the last review and validation exercise in 2018.
He said, “The policy was to ensure that no eligible Nigerian is left out of the electoral process on account of displacement, disability or other circumstances that may limit citizens’ participation in the electoral process.
“One of such developments is the increased number of IDPs as a result of widespread insecurity nationwide.
“Secondly, to incorporate not only the displaced citizens arising from armed conflicts but also natural emergencies such as flooding. Thirdly, to align the framework with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, specifically Section 24(1) which empowers the Commission to ensure that, as far as practicable, no Nigerian is disenfranchised on account of displacement by emergency situations. Finally, to align the framework with the national policy on internally displaced persons 2021”.
Yakubu stressed that beyond these, there was also a need for robust collaboration with stakeholders for voter education and sensitisation of IDPs.
He, however, denied the claim by a coalition of Civil Society Organisations r that the commission had violated section 19(1) of the 2022 Electoral Act, which spells out how voters’ registration should be displayed across the country.
Yakubu said INEC has not fixed a date for the activity in question and when it is time, it will do the needful to the letter.
He said, “We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will display the comprehensive register in all the 8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas/Area Councils nationwide as envisaged in Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. This will integrate fresh voters registered under the last CVR exercise into the existing register of over 84 million voters.
“The date will be announced as soon as the Commission completes the ongoing Automated Biometric Identification System to weed out all double/multiple as well as ineligible registrants. We appeal to some of our friends in civil society to be guided accordingly.”
In his presentation on the evaluation of IDPs and refugee’s status in Nigeria,
Chairman, the Committee on the Review of the Internally Displaced Persons Voting Framework , there are over 3.2 million persons who have been displaced from their homes in Nigeria as of 2021, adding that the figure stood at 2.73 million in 2020.
He said the revised IDP framework and regulations provide a template for IDP voting operations not only in conflict zones but also in areas of population displacement by non-conflict factors.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Dukku, said the Electoral Act 2022, Section 24(1) has provided an excellent legal foundation upon which to build a sustainable and strategic framework for IDP voting in Nigeria.
She urged the commission to draw lessons from 2015 and 2019 experience and also consult with other knowledge holders at state and national levels in consideration of international best practice.