ACN Accuses INEC Of Producing A Bloated 73M Voter Register

Source: THEWILL. -

ABUJA, March 15, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has expressed serious doubts over the authenticity of the final figure of voters who registered for next month's general elections, saying at 73 million, the register appears bloated.

In a statement issued in Lagos today by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the number of multiple registration announced by INEC, at 800, 000, is unrealistic and raises doubt concerning the proper use of the AFIS software to clean the register.

It challenged INEC to explain to Nigerians how it arrived at the figure of 73 million voters and 800,000 multiple registrations.

''We have taken our time to study the figures and here are our findings: Empirical analysis of the Nigerian population census given the 2006 figures and using a 3 percent growth rate annually from 2006 to date will put the Nigerian population at about 149,229,090 by July 2009 (Wikipedia). If the population under 18 years who are not eligible to register are taken to account at about 60%, and we discount those who voluntarily decided not to register to vote at about 5 to 10% at a conservative estimate, then there is no way that up to 73 million people could have registered to vote.

''The portent of this bloated voters' figure, therefore, will be that INEC is yet to come clean on its real figures following the AFIS scanning or may still be touting the pre-AFIS scanning figures as the actual voters' registration figure. Either way, the bloated figure can only lead to a distorted result for the polls and reward those who engaged in sharp practices during the registration exercise.

''Nigerians will recall that the ACN screamed non-stop during the registration about the activities of some crooked politicians who were inducing people financially to engage in multiple registration and bringing to their private residences the DDC machines used for the exercise. Based on our observations during the registration, the number of duplications should have been far higher.

''We also warned that the so-called AFIS software used to detect and remove multiple registration has been compromised by greedy engineers who sold their conscience to politicians in certain states where they were supposed to have run the software, thus failing to do so and leaving the multiple and irregular registrations in such states intact,'' it said.

ACN said the minimum criterion for the transparency of the process will be for INEC to give a state-by-state analysis of the pre- and post-AFIS scanning report, showing the initial figures registered for each state, the figures after AFIS scanning and the number of

registrations discarded for multiple and irregular registrations.

''Surely if INEC could give figures for initial (provisional) registration without difficulties, it can also hold the operational officers who delivered such figures to provide the nation with a state-by-state account of the figures arrived at after cleaning up the register from multiple and irregular registrations. Not to do so will make the Jega register as unreliable as the Iwu register, and will also mean that the huge expenditure on the registration exercise is a colossal waste,'' the party said.

Further highlighting its concern over the AFIS scanning process, it said if INEC had done the proper thing in cleaning up the register of multiple and irregular registrations, it could not have been able to come out with the figure for the final register at the time it did.

''Experts in the specific area of finger-print forensic assert that to properly detect the irregularities which INEC sought to remove from the voters' register, the collected registers from each ward had to be consolidated, then all the wards in each local government will then be consolidated, then all the local governments voter registration data within a state had to be integrated. To do this, the experts said it will require a pool of IT experts working in concert for a few days. Having consolidated all the data into one huge file, this data will then be scanned through a bank of computers, or mainframe, which INEC was supposed to have set up in each of its state offices.

''The mainframe was then expected to scan through all the data over a period of time, depending on the amount of data collected in the specific state. The result of such scanning using the AFIS software is supposed to produce three rolls, one for normal or regular registrations with no problems or the valid list, another for people who were matched with biometrics of face or finger prints as multiple registrations or the invalid list, and a third category of AFIS list which will include people whose registrations where voided because there where no biometric data or the biometric data were irregular

''The aforementioned categorization may explain why those states which displayed the voters' register immediately after the registration was completed did not show such distinctions, as they could not have done the required processes under such a short time

''Experts are unanimous in asserting that highly-populated states such as Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Oyo, Sokoto and so forth could not have done the AFIS scanning in such a short period and come out with the expected three-category list, and then subject them to claims and objections, before sending to the INEC national office for consolidation and scanning for inter-state multiple registrations to get a final figure of 73 million.

''It is therefore imperative for INEC to come clean on how it arrived at its figures and to publish a state-by-state analysis of the pre and post AFIS scanning report in order to win the confidence of Nigerians. This is important because a credible voters' register is a sine qua non for a free, fair and credible election,'' ACN said.