Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, condemned the suspension of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), by the Independent National Electoral Commission, describing it as an affront to the democratic process and a deprivation of civic rights of Nigerians.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said his group has begun consultations with like-minded civil rights platforms on the likelihood of immediately challenging the suspension of CVR on July 31, 2022.
The group said the decision would be made either way on Monday, before noon.
The group argued that suspending the exercise more than six months before a general election will disenfranchise millions of Nigerians, including youths who will clock 18 from August 2022, and Diasporans who plan to return home to vote.
HURIWA warned the INEC to desist from such an undemocratic move, and deliberate disenfranchisement, which is illegal, noting that there is nothing wrong with suspending voter registration by December 31, 2022.
It would be recalled that INEC, last Friday announced the suspension of voter registration by end of July following a judgment delivered by the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, which dismissed the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
SERAP had gone to court to seek an extension of the exercise beyond June 30, 2022, but the court ruled in favour of INEC.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The decision of INEC to suspend voter registration by end of July is not only illegal but undemocratic. INEC must extend the process till December, in accordance with the affirmation by the court that the CVR can only be suspended 90 days before the date fixed for the General Election, as provided in Sec. 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022. Anything other than that is an intentional disenfranchisement of the Nigerian people who now have increased political consciousness.
“INEC’s decision to end the process by end of July will cut off teeming youths who will clock 18 from August 2022. It is a known fact that the youths have become more politically conscious, and form a large chunk of our population. No serious commission will discourage them from the political process by shutting them out of the democratic process. And if they don’t vote in 2023, that means they have to suffer the bad decisions made by other voters and wait till 2027. This is a long time.”
“HURIWA wants to state categorically that INEC’s decision could be fiercely challenged in court if it is not rescinded with immediate effect. A new date of December 2022 is all Nigerians are asking for, it is not too much to ask for.”