Last-minute rush and allegations of extortion have trailed the August 31 deadline for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in some centres in Delta State.
At registration centres visited in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko South; Ozoro, headquarters of Isoko North; Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North, as well as Asaba, headquarters of Oshimili South local government councils of Delta State, residents besieged the centres in large numbers.
INEC had said that it would suspend the exercise on August 31, until after the 2019 elections. The August 31 deadline was an extension of the earlier fixed August 17 deadline, in order to allow more people register.
Speaking to our correspondent at various registration centres, residents seeking to register called for an extension of the deadline for the exercise to enable more voters participate in the forthcoming general elections.
"We have been here since 10am, and till now, so many of us have not been attended to and the exercise is coming to an end today.
"Here in Oleh, the INEC officials were collecting N500 for residents to either be registered or for conversion of your PVC. We also learnt that even in Ughelli, INEC officials demanded for N200 and N500, depending on what the case may be," an Oleh resident, who simply gave his name as Karo, alleged.
SaharaReporters also reliably gathered that at Issele Ukwu, headquarters of Aniocha North Local Government Area, residents were made to pay as much as N1,000 and N500 for registration and collection of PVCs.
Few weeks ago, INEC had embarked on a road-show along the major streets of Asaba, the Delta State capital to woo residents to register and get their PVCs ahead of the 2019 elections.
The commission was worried that more than 300,000 cards were waiting to be collected by their respective owners in the state.
Administrative Secretary of the Commission in the state, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, who led the roadshow in Asaba, had urged eligible voters to show interest in the exercise and obtain the cards.
All efforts to reach Oriaran-Anthony on a possible extension of the deadline, and to respond to allegations of extortion by INEC officials were not success. Also, the commission's Public Relations Officer declined comment on the issue.
In another development, a front-line governorship aspirant in the state, under the All Progressive Congress (APC), Cairo Ojuogboh, on Friday, led his party members and supporters to the state headquarters of INEC in Asaba, with placards and portraits of the aspirant to demand for free and fair elections.
Ojuogboh, leading the procession to the INEC office, shortly after the inauguration of his governorship campaign tagged, 'Operation Rescue Delta' and the Delta chapter of the President Buhari Support Group, followed with the official commissioning of his campaign office in Asaba, put the commission on notice that every vote of the electorate must count.
"INEC has done credibly well in her Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise. Despite the initial hitches and difficulties, they were able to surmount them. I will score INEC high in the successful CVR exercise and charge them to deliver free and fair election in Delta State.
"It must be one man one vote, which is the hallmark of our campaign. I enjoin all political parties to urge their members and the public to speed up action on the collection of their PVCs. We in the APC are already doing that to ensue that they collect their PVCs so that they can vote for us," Ojuogboh, said.