Leading pan-Igbo sociopolitical pressure group, the South East Revival Group (SERG) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to protect Igbos in all parts of the country as they seek to register as voters ahead of the 2023 general elections in their state of residence.
The SERG in a statement signed by its President and National Coordinator, Chief Willy Ezugwu, equally urged INEC to extend the deadline for the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR).
The group was reacting to reports that a large number of Igbos in Lagos State and parts of the South East were being marginalised and targeted for disenfranchisement as they attempted to register as voters.
According to the SERG, “several videos on social media supporting these allegations call for concern as the claims that Igbos at Alaba International, Ojo, and in other parts of Lagos State were attacked by hoodlums who, in some cases, carted away biometric machines deployed by INEC.
“While we call on INEC and all security agencies in the country to protect Igbos who seeking to register as voters, the CVR exercise should be extended to enable all eligible voters to go to their respective local government area offices of INEC and register to vote or collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in view of the current challenges.
“In most parts of the country, including South East, there is observable level of insecurity, and in some areas, military operations are ongoing in their communities. These justify the need for INEC to consider extending the CVR exercise.
“We also call on INEC to ensure that permanent voters cards of all registered voters, especially South earterners, are printed and distributed before the 2023 general elections.
“In the past, there were allegations that inadequate data capturing mechines were deployed in the South East while some Nigerians with southern names, particularly those with Igbo names, were disenfranchised in 2015 because their PVCs were either not printed as at when due or were allegedly sorted and kept away by unpatriotic citizens until after the elections.
“This is part of the marginalisation of Igbos across all the states of the Federation as being witnessed in Lagos State.
“It is unfortunate that while some Igbos were seeking the restoration of Biafra, those who believe in the use of their PVC to install the leadership that will unite and solve the numerous problems of the country are being attacked by hoodlums while performing their civic responsibility.
“It is therefore imperative that INEC and Security agencies put in place adequate security arrangements to protect the electoral umpire’s staff and law abiding citizens, especially Igbos who are seeking to register to vote.
“We also call on Igbos everywhere in the country to defy the intimidation and go out enmass and register to enable them cast their votes in the 2023 general elections for candidates of their choice”,the SERG said.