As the 2023 general election draws near in Nigeria, there has been an alarming rate of citizens compromising the electoral system as fresh allegation emerge that voters are selling their permanent Voters Card(PVC) in the Northern part of the country.
The latest revelation was given by the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF). The group alleged that Nigerians in the northern part of the country are selling their PVCs for N2000.
A statement issued by Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, on Wednesday evening said it can confirm what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had said regarding the development.
Recall INEC had a few days ago revealed it had uncovered the practice where some Nigerians have been buying off PVCs and warned that perpetrators are liable to imprisonment.
The NEF noted that its discovery had shown the practice is “widespread” and targeted at venerable people “in many parts of the North and a few other parts of Nigeria.”
The statement noted the Forum “had followed this worrying phenomenon, advising community leaders and major stakeholders on the dangers of disenfranchising large numbers of citizens.
“We have also undertaken our own investigations, which prompt this public warning.
“Thousands, or possibly even millions of Northern voters, particularly women, are being made to surrender their PVCs for a pittance, in most instances not more than N2000 Naira.
“In some instances they are told their cards will be returned to them after they are processed for additional payments as poverty relief.No cards are retuned.
“Our investigations suggest that this an aggressive and blatant voter suppression attempt to reduce the voting powers of the North. We have been assured by INEC that this practice in itself will not compromise its systems and processes.
“People who are involved in this practice appear to be working for different parties, but they target communities where they assume their parties or candidates have comparative advantages or disadvantages,” the NEF’s scribe said.
NEF advised “registered voters not to part with their PVCs under any circumstances.Irrespective of which party or candidate they support, Northerners must vote in the forthcoming elections, as this is the only way our region can reverse its current fortunes and circumstances.
“To sell your card now, or sell your vote in next year’s elections is to betray your responsibility to improving our circumstances and future.
“Every Northerner should know that our voting population and turnout during elections are the only powers we have left, but we can use them to affect who will lead us at the next elections.
“Voters from other parts of the country are jealously guarding their voting opportunities.Our relative poverty now is no excuse to surrender the opportunity to improve our future.
“NEF calls on INEC to intensify its public awareness campaign against this dangerous threat to rights of all voters to vote.It calls on all authorities to raise levels of vigilance and arrest this practice.
“NEF also calls on the federal and state governments to intensify the campaign against violent threats that could prevent millions of voters in the North, and many other citizens in other parts of the country from voting.
“INEC should sustain its efforts to conduct credible elections next year,” Baba-Ahmed stated.