The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the National Identity Number (NIN) is not a constitutional requirement for voter registration in the country.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voters’ Education Committee, said this in an interview on Monday.
Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, had at an event last week said the NIN is compulsory for voter registration among other things.
The minister quoted section 27 of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act as stating that benefitting from government services as a citizen without NIN is an offence punishable by imprisonment.
However, Okoye insisted that the NIMC act is at variance with the 1999 constitution (as amended), which does not stipulate NIN as a requirement for voter registration.
The INEC National Commissioner said the electoral body will continue to conduct its activities using the constitution as a guide as it “is a creation of the constitution”.
The commission “does not share its voters’ registration constitutional powers with any other organ or agency of government… and no organ of government is permitted to expand or constrict the powers of the commission relating to the registration of voters”, Okoye told TheCable.
“No organ of government or agency can impose additional registration criteria other than the ones set out in the law. No section of the constitution or the Electoral Act makes the possession of national identity number compulsory for voters’ registration,” Okoye told TheCable.
“The commission will not accede to any request or directive that will amount to the violation of the constitution and the law. The commission is a creation of the constitution and the law and must at all times maintain fidelity to the laws of the land.
“The constitution and the Electoral Act did not make the possession of a particular form of identification compulsory. The commission is not empowered to impose additional registration conditions other than those imposed by the constitution and the Electoral Act.”