‘Thieves Don’t Have Account Numbers’ — How INEC Officials Filled Their Pockets On Deadline Day For PVC Registration

“How much do I have to pay to register?” the reporter inquired. “It’s just N2,000 and you’ll get your PVC. I will buy card, call you at a certain time to come and collect it.” “What if I come on Monday, will I meet you here?” “I am ever here. Ask anybody. My name is Emir,” he replied with a dauntless smile. When asked if he had an account number so that, the N2,000 could be transferred, he said: “thieves don’t have account number.”

As Nigerians besieged the Independent National Electoral Council (INEC) centres across the nation in a last-minute attempt to participate in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) Exercise, investigation by SaharaReporters revealed the attempts by unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of the situation by engaging in corrupt practices.

 

“You can’t register today. Once they’re done with these people, they’ll close for today. It will be very difficult for you to get it now because those ones there (pointing at the residents on the queue) are already numbered. But I can do it for you, only if you will pay me.”

The above were the words of ‘Emir’, as he was referred to. He was a dark, tall, pot-bellied fellow.

The above were the words of ‘Emir’, as he was referred to. He was a dark, tall, pot-bellied fellow.

It was a bright Friday morning. The day was August 31, 2018. It was the last day for eligible voters to participate in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise. As at 10:15am, when SaharaReporters visited one of the Lagos registration centres located at Alaba Primary School, Mushin, the venue was already peopled by crowds who were in a rush to register.

Interestingly, some of the residents claimed they got to the centre as early as 2am, and at 12noon, the queue only seemed to get longer. It was also observed that only a few people could go in unhindered.

It turned out that one could get out of the scorching sun by simply ‘bribing’ one of the ‘guys’ around. And that was how ‘Emir’ came into the picture.

Bribing ‘Emir’ to register

“You can’t register today. Once they’re done with these people, they’ll close for today. It will be very difficult for you to get it now because those one there (pointing at the queuing residents) are already numbered,” Emir, a dark tall pot-bellied man, who would later offer to help, told this reporter.

“But I can do it for you, only if you will pay me,” he said, exuding the confidence of one who was sure of getting it done.

He continued: “Ask those I’ve done it for here. You can see people are trying to lobby with me. Those who I’ve done it for introduced them to me.”

And he didn’t lie about his trade. He was surrounded by residents as they lobbied to get his attention.

“How much do I have to pay to register?” the reporter inquired.

“It’s just N2,000 and you’ll get your PVC. I will buy card, call you at a certain time to come and collect it.”

“What if I come on Monday, will I meet you here?”

“I am ever here. Ask anybody. My name is Emir,” he replied with a dauntless smile.

When asked if he had an account number so that, the N2,000 could be transferred, he said: “thieves don’t have account number.”

All efforts to get the INEC officials at the centre to confirm if they were aware of Emir’s ‘trade’ proved abortive, as people who weren’t staff or from Emir’s list were allowed into the registration office.

‘I’m tired, I’ve been here since 5am’

At 1:45pm, when SaharaReporters visited another registration centre at Apapa Local Council Development Area, Ijora-Badia, there were hordes of frustrated Nigerians who said they had come to the venue long before dawn.

“I’m tired, I’ve been here since 5am,” a resident who preferred not to be named told SaharaReporters.

At first sight, there were many young girls at the entrance who sat down, looking very tired. When approached to know what was going on, a woman shouted out: “Young man, you better remove your eye glasses to see clearly. You can’t register now or even today. Even those of us who have been here since morning have no faith of getting it. We are just waiting.”

From afar, another fair, thin lady replied: “He can get it if he knows his way. I even know somebody who impersonated another person and entered inside the centre.”

SaharaReporters observed that Emir’s trade also flourished at the centre. It was very hard to access the room where the registration was going on, not even as a reporter.

When a security man in faded brown vigilante uniform was approached on how to make the process faster, he said: “It’s too late. If you had come earlier, I would have offered any help but for now, my hands are tied.”

In Ibadan, 160 people were already waiting to register at 5am

SaharaReporters obtained a short video, which revealed how residents of Ibadan, Oyo State arrived at an INEC registration centre as early as 4am to register their presence.

A resident who shared a video with this reporter said he arrived at the registration centre around 5am and yet, he met more than 160 people who had registered their names before his arrival.

Another citizen, who simply identified himself as Akin, also revealed to this reporter that there were cases of people paying to hasten up the registration, stating: “You know that’s the mentality of Nigerians; you use what you have to get what you want.”

In Niger State, at 2:52pm, residents who arrived at 6:30am had not registered

SaharaReporters authoritatively gathered that, hundreds of the PVC seekers were stranded outside the gate of the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State.

The registration was sluggish due to the fact that the INEC office, Suleja, only has one functioning computer for the registration exercise.

SaharaReporters arrived the Suleja INEC office at exactly 2:52pm, and at that time, PVC seekers who arrived the office as early as 6:30am were still outside the gate. The normal procedure of admitting people into the building was by calling out names of those who had the opportunity of writing their names before 9am.

Read Also: MUM SELLS BABY, BUYS CELLPHONE

However, on that day, a lot of people who had written their names the day before were yet to be registered, and that caused delay in the registration process.

The people complained of being unfairly treated as they claimed some people whose names were not on the list were being allowed into the compound.

“If only I have a car and ‘Agbada’, I would have been done with this registration, I would only need to sound my horn and I would be allowed in,” a young man said.

Another man was seen complaining bitterly to one of the policemen outside the office, saying: “That lady in there met us here!”

The policeman, however, replied, saying: “I don’t know who allowed her in and I can’t ask because it could be my superior.”

Voter registration should be free, says INEC

Meanwhile, while speaking on a television programme on Monday, Solomon Soyebi, the National Commissioner, INEC Voter Education and Publicity, acknowledged that the commission had received complaints of demand and payment of bribes from some states of the federation, noting that investigation was ongoing.

Meanwhile, while speaking on a television programme on Monday, Solomon Soyebi, the National Commissioner, INEC Voter Education and Publicity, acknowledged that the commission had received complaints of demand and payment of bribes from some states of the federation, noting that investigation was ongoing.

“We got complaints from three states; we are investigating the cases The outcome of the investigation is not yet out. But what we did was to make sure to take preventative measures over this. It is supposed to be free,” he said.

“The people themselves should not even give, it’s for free. In a chaotic situation like that, it’s very [easy] to extort. It’s not just that alone, you’ll see somebody who came very late and wants to be the first.”

share on:

Leave a Response