By Kingsley Okoye
Abuja, Nov. 4, 2020 The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it will begin another round of voter registration in the first quarter of 2021.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday after appearing before the Senate Committee on INEC to defend the Commission’s 2021 budget.
He said the voter registration exercise will run till six months before the 2023 general elections.
“We will resume voter registration in the first quarter of 2021. And once we resume, it will be continuous for one and half years, at least until six months to the next general election.
He also revealed that the commission is currently involved in about 1,700 pre-election and post-election court cases from 2019 general elections.
He, however, said the Commission is not paying huge legal fees but applying Federal Ministry of Justice scale of fees.
“For instance, if we have a case for governorship election before the Supreme Court, it is a maximum of N4.5 million, but because of the number of cases, we are almost getting close to 1,700 pre-election and post-election cases in 2019 alone.
“Every day you hear people going to court and joining INEC, but we will continue to do what we can within available resources,” he said.
Earlier at the budget defence, Yakubu said the Commission plans to withdraw N5.2 billion from its N10 billion fund to augment its 2020 budget.
He said the commission had not spent from the fund since it was established in 2010, noting that the withdrawal is occasioned by the reduction in its 2020 budget.
“What has happened now is, our budget for 2020 dropped to N40 billion from N45.5 billion in 2019.
“As a result of the 10 per cent COVID-19 cut, it further dropped to N36 billion in the middle of the year when we had already made preparations for expenditure.
“Therefore, since that fund is made for the rainy days, I informed the committee that the rainy day has come
“So we are taking part of the fund to balance our budget for this year,” he said.
On diaspora voting, he said the Commission is desirous to give Nigerians abroad the right to vote, noting that the actualisation requires amendment to the constitution and the Electoral Act.
“We have already worked out the document, once the law is amended, we can roll out.
“We are ready, we have had several meetings with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) but we can’t go beyond what the law provides,” he said.