The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has dissociated itself from a fake website, which is being used to urge Nigerians to enroll for their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye said this in a statement in Abuja on August 1st, 2022. He described the website as fake. “Barely 24 hours after the suspension of voter registration, INEC’s attention has been drawn to an online site urging Nigerians to enroll for voter card (PVC) registration,” Okoye said.
Mr. Okoye revealed that the scammers claimed that the Federal Government has approved individual PVC registration online to avoid unnecessary crowd at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) centers. “The commission states unequivocally that the site is not linked to the commission and it is spurious and from a dubious source,” he said. Okoye maintained that INEC was the only body constitutionally and legally mandated to conduct the registration of persons qualified to vote in any election in Nigeria and to update and revise the register as needed or when due.
Mr. Okoye reiterates the functions of the commission.
He said, “The commission is solely responsible for organizing, undertaking, and supervising national elections in the country and does not share this responsibility with anybody or any organization. Members of the public are strongly advised not to succumb to the antics of online scammers and should avoid such fake sites. The commission has concluded the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) nationwide and does not need to open an additional site or portal for the purpose of registration of voters.”
The CVR included a series of procedures which both new and old eligible voters have to undergo to be able to vote for the forthcoming general elections in 2023. They include: pre-enrolment exercises, voter validation, and voter transfer from one polling unit to another. All procedures take place on INEC’s official website. The pre-enrolment exercise enables new voters to register on INEC’s website and supply basic information so that biometric enrolment at NIMC and INEC centers can be seamless.
PVC pre-enrolment exercise may have given credence to the fake site.
This pre-enrolment procedure may have opened up a loophole for scammers to bank on and harvest user data for fraud, impersonation, and cybercrime. Many voters in Nigeria have not been properly educated on the proper procedure of registration. In fact, majority of these voters may not know how the pre-enrolment works via INEC’s official website. Even the supposedly educated young voters may not totally know how the procedures work because it may be “technical” to them.
What these scammers do is open fake websites, find and prey on the ignorance or lack of adequate information of these unsuspecting voters. If they can believe that one has to register online before completing the registration at an INEC center, then they can also believe that the process has been moved entirely online. It is as easy as giving the excuse that these scammers are said to have given. The registration has been moved online to avoid the hassles of waking up early and waiting at these centers.
INEC’s official website also handles voter validation and transfer.
Apart from the pre-enrolment exercise, INEC’s official website is also equipped to handle voter information validation and transfer. Voter validation is to ensure that information such as residential address, email address, polling unit, etc. are correct. On the other hand, voter transfer is to ensure that voters who may have moved away from one city to another, or from one state to another, can transfer their information to another polling unit near them. This is necessary so that they do not have to travel inter-city or interstate in order to vote.