Non-Indigenes Of Lagos March To INEC Office To Demand PVCs

Some residents of Lagos State on Thursday marched to the state’s headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission at Yaba to demand the release of their Permanent Voter Cards.
The protesters, who carried placards with inscriptions such as, “INEC deliberately hold our PVCs,” “Non-indigenes of Lagos State refuse to be disenfranchised,” “We want to vote, give us our PVCs,” had first converged on the Yaba Market before marching to INEC’s office.

They were received by officials of the commission, led by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akin Orebiyi.

Policemen from some police divisions in the state were also on hand to forestall a breakdown of law and order, as they formed a human shield around the INEC officials.

The protesters, in their address, alleged that INEC was being partial in the distribution of the PVCs, adding that some officials of the electoral body had been compromised.

The Chairman of Union of Non-indigenes in Lagos State, Francis Abang, said report from members of the group indicated that 70 per cent of them had yet to collect their PVCs.

He said, “At the last meeting we had, our members told me that more than 70 per cent of our people have not collected their PVCs. And without this card, we cannot vote. That is why we decided to come here and air our grievances. We want to vote.”

The National Publicity Secretary of the North Central indigenes in Lagos State, Obalaiye Boyede, said out of 15 polling units in his area in the Iyana Ipaja area of the state, only two had received PVCs.

Boyede said, “A general secretary with us went to Ikeja with his wife to collect his PVC, but they were turned back. I believe there is connivance between some political parties and some INEC officials. These parties are given PVCs in bulk to take home and when anybody raises questions, the situation turns rowdy just to cover up the act.

“In Abule Oki, Iyana Ipaja, where I came from, many of our people are being disenfranchised. Out of 15 polling units, it is only in two that PVCs have been distributed.”

Christopher Chimeze, a resident of the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area claimed he lost his job while chasing his PVC.

The Imo State indigene, who said he had lived all his life in the state, said he had made at least 12 futile attempts to get the card, but was frustrated.

Chimeze said his boss asked him to leave his job “after he did not find me on site on several occasions. But I won’t give up, because I believe my vote is what will make that right candidate to win the election.”

Onugha Remigus, a 70-year-old protester from the Mushin area of Lagos State, said, “INEC owes me. They used my shop, table and chairs for the distribution of the PVCs and yet, they didn’t give me my card.”

Another resident, Uche David, said there was a deliberate plot to disenfranchise the Igbos in the state.

He said, “If you go to Ajeromi, you will discover that those from the South-South are being deliberately sidelined. In Ajegunle, they are burning the PVCs of non-indigenes and this is bad. We need our PVCs to vote.”

The REC, Orebiyi, promised to look into the complaints, adding that he would visit the affected areas.

He said, “We apologise for the trouble you have had to face to collect your PVCs. Our Chairman, Attahiru Jega, yesterday (Wednesday) addressed the senate on the challenges we are facing.

“We are still awaiting one million PVCs, which have yet to arrive. As soon as they arrive, we will give them to you. We will also investigate the claim that PVCs are being hijacked in some places and any of our officials found culpable will be sanctioned. But be assured that on the part of INEC, there is no plan to disenfranchise anyone.

“We have five weeks to elections. For the next three weekends till March 8, we shall distribute the PVCs.”

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