The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has opposed the proposed use of the National Identification Number (NIN) as a requirement for voter registration in Nigerian elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voters Education, Festus Okoye, made this known in an interview with TheCable on Monday.
Recall that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had announced last week that NIN is compulsory for voter registration, opening of bank accounts, payment of taxes, and other government transactions.
Speaking during a meeting with the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the minister claimed that the decision is backed by the NIMC Act of 2007.
“This is most important in the area of NIN, which is a mandatory number, based on the NIMC order of 2007 that has actively been neglected for years.
“There’s no identity that will define you as a citizen more than that number. It is mandatory. And it is mandatory for transactions such as opening bank accounts, paying tax, voter registration, and many more,” he had said.
But according to Okoye, the decision is not supported by the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act, which means the policy is illegal and unconstitutional.
The INEC spokesman added that the commission does not share its constitutional powers to register voters with any other government agency.
He said: “The commission does not share its voters’ registration constitutional powers with any other organ or agency of government… and no organ of government is permitted to expand or constrict the powers of the commission relating to the registration of voters”.
“No organ of government or agency can impose additional registration criteria other than the ones set out in the law. No section of the constitution or the Electoral Act makes the possession of national identity number compulsory for voters’ registration.
“The commission will not accede to any request or directive that will amount to the violation of the constitution and the law. The commission is a creation of the constitution and the law and must at all times maintain fidelity to the laws of the land.
“The constitution and the Electoral Act did not make the possession of a particular form of identification compulsory. The commission is not empowered to impose additional registration conditions other than those imposed by the constitution and the Electoral Act.”