The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has exonerated the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission from allegations of gross underage voting in the last local government election in the state.
Abubakar Nahuce, Chairman of a special panel set up by Mahmood Yakubu, INEC National Chairman, to probe the allegations, made this known while briefing newsmen on Friday.
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 LG elections.
He said that some of the pictures were from the recently held Kenya presidential elections.
The Kano LG election was won by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in all the 44 council areas in the state.
“From the interaction with civil society organisations and media, no evidence of underage voting has been presented,” Nahuche said.
“We have discussed with you media men, but none of you said he saw any underage voter in the line on election day.
“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.
In one of the videos posted online and seen by ICIR, the children were seen chattering gaily as they queued up to vote and the cameramen who spoke in Hausa could be heard chanting APC.
Checks by ICIR showed that no political party with the acronym APC exists in Kenya. The closest are AP for Agano Party; ARC for Alliance for Real Change and APK for Alliance Party of Kenya.
So it would be out of place for voters to be chanting APC in Kenya.
Secondly, the children in the video spoke Hausa; and of the many languages spoken in Kenya, chief of which is Swahili, Hausa is not one. The Hausa ethnic group is found mostly in West Africa.
.@dawisu viral video of underage voting allegedly during Kano Municipal election, it appears Kano Chapter of @APCNigeria rigging machine is blatant, can your principal investigate and you get back to @Twitter ?? Republic please, remember Kano State is responsible 4 the election pic.twitter.com/pwNNGVr4bc
— Kayode Ogundamisi (@ogundamisi) February 11, 2018
INEC must acknowledge the seriousness of underage voting. To continue denying it will do no one no good.
The video above was shot during an election that held in Nigeria, whether it was during the recent Kano LG polls or the 2015 general election is another matter entirely.
Lai Olurode, a Professor and former INEC Commissioner, admitted during a recent interview with Punch that there were places in Nigeria where INEC personnel were being compelled, sometimes even threatened, to register underage voters.
“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,” Olurode said.
“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.”
INEC’s first reaction to the latest claims of underage voting was was to deny responsibility, saying it had no legal powers over state electoral commission. It was cheery news, therefore, that Yakubu made an about-face and ordered a probe into the allegation.
However, INEC probe panel’s dismissal of the reports as mere hearsay not backed with evidence leaves a lot to be desired.