The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has absolved the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission from allegations of gross underage voting in the last local government election in the state. Recall that the national chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, set up a special panel to investigate the allegations of electoral malpractice in the state.
The chairman of the special investigative panel, Abubakar Nahuce, thus disclosed on Friday, March 2, that there is no evidence to back up the allegations. In an earlier report by NAIJ.com, Nahuce said there was no concrete evidence to prove that the pictures of underage voters making the rounds on the Internet were from the Kano local government elections.
Nahuce said: “From the interaction with civil society organisations and media, no evidence of underage voting has been presented. “We have discussed with you media men, but none of you said he saw any underage voter in the line on election day.” In another report by ICIR, Nahuce added that some of the pictures were from the recently conducted Kenya presidential elections.
He said: “All what we saw were from social media and they are not verifiable… some of them are not even from Nigeria, some are from Kenya elections but people are attributing them to Nigeria.”
Earlier, Mohmmed Garba, Kano state commissioner of Information, had claimed the pictures were taken during the 2015 general election. The Kano council poll was won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in all the 44 council areas in the state. How true is the claim by Nahuce that some of the videos are from Kenya? Fact According to ICIR, in one of the videos posted online, the children were seen chattering cheerily as they queued up to vote and the cameramen who spoke in Hausa could be heard chanting APC.
NAIJ.com gathered from ICIR’s findings that there is no political party with the acronym APC in Kenya. The closest are AP for Agano Party; ARC for Alliance for Real Change and APK for Alliance Party of Kenya. Therefore, it would be out of place for voters to be chanting APC in Kenya. Also, the children in the video reportedly spoke Hausa; Hausa language is not spoken in Kenya. Of course, there are many languages spoken in Kenya, chief of which is Swahili, but Hausa is not one of them. The Hausa ethnic group is found mostly in West Africa.
INEC must acknowledge the seriousness of underage voting and come up with innovative strategies on how to prevent it. Continuing to deny underage voting is not good for the country’s electoral system. The video above was shot during an election that was conducted in Nigeria, ICIR confirmed. However, whether it was during the recent Kano council polls as claimed by some people or the 2015 general election as claimed by Kano commissioner is another matter entirely. A former INEC commissioner, Professor Lai Olurode recently admitted during a recent interview with Punch that there were places in Nigeria where INEC personnel were being forced, sometimes even threatened, to register underage voters. He said: “There are certain areas of this country where even if they know the person is a kid, they will insist that the child must vote. “I had to run for my life at one of the election centres in a part of the country because these people said children must vote or there would be no election at all. It was that bad.”