IDPs will vote in 2023 elections – INEC

Doofan Ben-Aondofa

Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, has promised that those in IDP camps will be allowed to cast ballots in the country’s general election in 2023.

Mahmood Yakubu, head of Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, has promised that those in IDP camps will be allowed to cast ballots in the country’s general election in 2023.

Mr Yakubu, addressing the state of election preparation in Nigeria on Tuesday at Chatham House London, stated that violence would be a significant hurdle to credible elections this year.

He stated that the commission collaborated with the National Assembly to revise the Electoral Act to include people living in displaced persons camps.

Mr Yakubu explained that the large number of internally displaced people (IDPs) estimated in the North East and North Central in 2015 influenced the decision.

“In 2015, an estimated 2 million voters were displaced by conflict in the North-East and North-Central part of the country. In response, the commission worked with the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to support voting by Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). This entailed making additional provisions for the enumeration of IDP voters and voting in their camps.

“In response to the IDP problem, the Commission recently revised its Policy on IDP Voting, which it has been using since 2015, to cater for new realities of displaced populations,” he said.

However, the head of the election commission noted that in some states, the IDPs are not located in defined camps, making coordination more challenging.

“Unfortunately, in some States it is difficult to identify the IDPs because they are not in camps but rather settled among extended family members, relations and good Samaritans within safer communities where they are not registered voters. As a result, it is very difficult for the commission to provide necessary electoral services to such IDPs. However, those in camps within Nigeria will be catered for in line with the commission’s policy,” Mr Yakubu said.

Multiple attacks have taken place across all three regions of northern Nigeria. Hundreds of thousands have been killed by the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorists loyal to the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the region’s North East, but what’s more alarming is that millions of locals have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries like Chad, Cameron, and Niger.

Many people have been forced to leave their homes in the North Central region due to conflict between farmers and herders, banditry, and ethno-religious strife.

Terrorists, sometimes known as bandits, have been wreaking havoc in the northern states. Since federal, state, and municipal highways are in danger, schools have been targeted, farmers have stopped going to farms, and local merchants have stopped shopping at local markets.

Terrorism has caused millions of deaths and forced millions to flee their homes. The terrorist attacks were blamed in a special article as a significant factor in the increasing rate of rural-to-urban migration.

According to Abdurahman Jani, a journalist in Katsina who covers politics for ALFIJIR RADIO 91.5, the act should have permitted internally displaced persons who are not already living in designated camps to cast ballots.

“When you look at it, most of the governors have shut down the IDP camps, so where would the INEC officials go to conduct the voting? Most of the camps you see in the North West are not official because the governors have shut down the camps.”

Therefore, he argued, “since these people are Nigerian, and since most of them most have forgotten their PVCs while leaving their villages or didn’t have the chance to settle in to their new environment and even make effort to register for a new PVC while it was being done,” they should be allowed to cast ballots in Nigeria.

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