Desperate politicians have resorted to bribing and luring voters with gifts to encourage them to collect their Permanent Voter Cards for next week’s election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday had said that it had distributed 43,098,000 PVCs representing 65.5 per cent of total voters registered for the February general elections.
But many voters have expressed fears that they might not be able to vote since 35 per cent of PVCs are still with the electoral body. Besides, a lot of voter cards issued by INEC are yet to be collected.
Saturday PUNCH investigation also revealed that Politicians have been bribing voters, who registered more than once, to encourage them to get multiple permanent voter cards so as to enable them to win more votes for their parties in the next general elections.
The politicians are offering between N3, 000 and N5, 000 as “mobilisation money” to each of the eligible voters to persuade them to either get multiple PVCs or collect their PVCs.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that the politicians are using money to encourage voters collected their PVCs and ignore the inconveniences they might encounter in the process of doing so.
It was learnt that the politicians adopted the strategy after the Independent National Electoral Commission insisted that the temporary voter cards would not be allowed for voting in the forthcoming elections.
Some of the voters, who spoke with our correspondents, confirmed that the politicians also gave them transport fare to the registration centres to facilitate the collection.
One of them, Alhaja Modinat Ibrahim, an indigene of Kwara State, said she did registration twice after she was offered money by a politician whose name she refused to mention.
“I was approached by a politician in my area (Baruten Local Government Area) to do double registration, but I initially declined. After much persuasion and gift of N5, 000, I finally agreed to his request,” she said.
According to her, she first registered in Baruten LGA of Kwara State where she lives and later went to Balogun Fulani Ward 1 in Ilorin for the second registration.
Ibrahim said, “I registered in both places at different times. I wore hijab while registering in Baruten, but I did not wear it in Ilorin. I robbed a particular concoction on my hands and fingers so that I could beat being detected by the INEC biometric machine.”
Another person, Alhaja Aishat Iyiola, said she was also encouraged by a politician who promised to give her N3, 000 to register twice.
Iyiola told one of our correspondents that she first registered in Offa without wearing hijab and did the second registration at Alanamu Ward in Ilorin with her hijab.
According to her, she lives with her relatives in Offa and has her family home at Ilorin and her registrations in the two places on different days did not raise any suspicion.
Ibrahim and Iyiola told Saturday PUNCH that the politicians had been keeping contact with them with promises of financial reward if they collected their PVCs.
According to them, they have collected the first PVCs and hope to collect the other as of the time they spoke with Saturday PUNCH.
The Director of Media, the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State, Chief Rex Olawoye, said though he would not accuse any political party of instigating people to do double registration, there were reports that some electorate registered more than once. In Akwa Ibom State, voters who registered in places called “Zero Unit” (units with less than 50 voters) were said to have got double PVCs.
An INEC official, who did not want his name mentioned, said that political parties ward chairmen in the state collected the PVCs on proxies for members of their communities.
According to him, few of the owners of the PVCs are dead and the ward chairmen did not bother to return the deceased’s cards.
An eligible voter, who simply gave his name as Etim, confirmed to one of our correspondents that he had two PVCs. He said he first registered at Ikot Ekpene and later did the second registration at Ibesikpo Asutan.
According to him, he was urged by one of the party leaders in his ward to register twice to test if the INEC biometric machine could detect double fingerprints.
Emmanuel, another voter who has two PVCs, said he registered in two places – Uda ward 1 in Oron and Uyo.
Emmanuel said he engaged in double registrations after receiving commitment from a politician in his ward in Oron that he would be financially rewarded for doing so and collecting the PVCs for the forthcoming elections.
There are also cases of voters with multiple PVCs in Ekiti State. A public servant, who refused to mention his name, told Saturday PUNCH that he had two PVCs.
The public servant said he collected the first PVC in his home town which he also refused to name and collected the second one in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
He said, “I did the first registration in my home town and also did another registration in Ado Ekiti.
“I have collected the PVC in Ado Ekiti when I received telephone call that the second PVC was ready for collection in my home town.”
One of our correspondents also gathered that some politicians in Plateau State discreetly induced their supporters to register twice in order to collect double PVCs.
A motor mechanic, who simply identified himself as Nuru, said he was part of those who registered twice in different locations in the state.
He further explained that a politician whose name he did not mention came to his workshop at Gada Biu area and begged him and his colleagues to go and collect their PVCs.
This, according to him, was after the politicians had confirmed at the collection points that their names were on display and their PVCs ready for collection.
Nuhu said, “When he came and we told him that we did not have transport fare, he gave us money to transport ourselves to the registration centre. He also gave us extra money to buy soft drinks.”
Another resident of the state, who gave his name as John Tarus, confirmed that a political party’s local government executive member had mobilised some youths to register in multiple locations in the state.
The politician, he said, came to his house early in the week to lobby them with money to go ahead and collect the two PVCs.
Asked if he had succeeded in collecting the PVCs, Tarus said he was able to collect one, but promised to go for the other one before the February 8 deadline.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that some politicians in Ogun State mobilised their supporters and other voters with food and token amount of money ranging from N2, 000 to N3, 000 to go and collect their PVCs.
One of the voters, who only gave his alias as Shadow, said he registered both in Lagos and Ogun states, but with different names.
But another voter, Ismaila Amodu, said he registered in two different senatorial districts of the state with the same name.
Also in Osun State, politicians have been luring voters with gifts to encourage them to collect their PVCs.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the politicians have been moving from house to house distributing gifts such as bags and cloths to voters.
The politicians, according to findings by one of our correspondents, are also keeping contact with those who have already got the PVCs promising to reward them more if they vote for their parties in the forthcoming elections.
Our correspondent in Osogbo gathered that many politicians now give their freebies only to those who have PVCs because they know that these are the categories of people who are useful to their ambitions.
A prospective female voter who said she was not in the state during the last governorship poll held on August 9, 2014, confided in one of our correspondents that a politician who knew that she had yet to collect her PVC had promised to pay her N2, 000.00 if she did so.
The lady said, “The man knows that I was away during the last election but he had promised to pay me N2, 000 if I collect the voter card. He also said he would buy drinks for some of the guys and even for some who he knew would surely vote for him.”
Mr. Saheed Sumonu of Ward 3, Egbedore Local Government Area in Osun State told Saturday PUNCH that politicians had been going from house to house mobilising prospective voters who had yet to collect their PVCs to go and do so.
He explained that the party leaders went to the collection units to ascertain the owners of the unclaimed PVCs and went after them to encourage them to collect the cards with the aim of enhancing their parties’ fortune in the coming elections.
“They gave me N1,000 as transport fare to encourage me to collect my PVCs,” he added.
The INEC Public Relations Officer in Osun State, Mrs. Adenike Tadese, told one of our correspondents that some registered voters were complaining that they could not find their PVCs because some of them registered more than once.
She said, “Some registered in two or more places and if this is detected, INEC will cancel two and leave one. The problem now is that since we don’t tell them the one we left; most of them do not know the unit and ward where the one that is not deleted is. “Some of them will never say the truth. But we are working to ensure that every registered voter gets their PVCs.” The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti State, Mr. Sam Olumekun, denied cases of double registration in the state. Speaking through the PRO, Alhaji Taiwo Gbedegesin, he said INEC had eliminated cases of multiple registrations while clearing its data base during the registration period. He said, “If one registered more than once, the system will recognise only the last one whether it favours the person or not. “Even if you have two PVCs, with the system in place you can’t use it because of the smart card reader. It is also a waste of time because voting takes place simultaneously.” The INEC spokesperson in Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. David Edak, said having two or more PVCs would not serve any useful purpose. He said since all the PVCs would pass through card readers for accreditation of voters, the device would only accept one card.