By Bamidele Olohi Evelyn
There has been this question of whether the Permanent Voter’s Card issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expires after some time or not. As everyone is gearing towards the coming elections in 2023, politicians are sensitizing their supporters to ensure they register to get their Permanent Voter’s Card.
A Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) is a smart card with an electronic chip that stores information such as biometric data (physical attributes, thumbprint, etc.) and protects the information stored in it. The PVCs are electronically programmed and can only be read or accessed electronically with a card reader.
This card contains the passport of the voter, polling unit code, Voter Identification Number (VIN), Local Government Area (LGA) of registration, name of voter, date of birth of voter, occupation of voter, address of voter and the gender. Behind the card is the first name of the voter and his or her VIN, the date of registration, the batch, and the serial number. The PVC enables registered voters to exercise their civic right to vote in elections in Nigeria.
Section 16 and 18 of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended);
Section 16(1) The Commission shall design, cause to be printed and control the issuance of voters’ cards to voters whose names appear in the register.
(2) No voter shall hold more than one valid voters’ card.
(3) Any person who contravenes subsection (2) commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to a fine not more than N500,000 or imprisonment for a term not more than one year or both.
(4) The Commission may, whenever it considers it necessary, replace all or any voters’ cards for the time being held by voters. (Electoral Act, 2022 No. 13 A 365)
Section 16(1-4) of the Electoral Act gives the Commission the power to issue voters card to those whose names appear in the Voters register. Also, no voter is permitted to hold more than one card.
The Commission may, whenever it considers it necessary, replace all or any voters’ cards for the time being held by voters. This is clearly spelt out in section 16(4).
18(1) “Whenever a voter’s card is lost, destroyed, defaced, torn or otherwise damaged, the owner of such card shall, not less than 90 days before polling day, apply in person to the electoral officer or any other officer duly authorized for that purpose by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, stating the circumstances of the loss, destruction, defacement or damage”.
(2) “Where the electoral officer or any other officer is satisfied as to the circumstances of loss, destruction, defacement or damage of the voter’s card, he or she shall issue to the voter a replacement permanent voter’s card”
The commission has the power to replace the voters card for any of the reasons as provided in subsection (2) of section 18.
As the name implies, it is a permanent card. It does not expire as some people have been made to think. As far as the law stands today in Nigeria, a holder of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) can use it for subsequent elections in Nigeria. Its validity is forever. Though there may be cases where a voter’s card may get missing or is destroyed or broken; in such cases, it can be replaced by INEC.
WHO CAN GET A PERMANENT VOTER’S CARD (PVC)?
Section 12. — (1) “A person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person—
(a) is a citizen of Nigeria;
(b) has attained the age of 18 years;
(c) is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the Local Government, Area Council or Ward covered by the registration center;
(d) presents himself to the registration officers of the Commission for registration as a voter; and
(e) is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or regulations in force in Nigeria”.
(2) ”A person shall not register in more than one registration centre.”
The above section 12(1a-e, 2) of the Electoral Act provides for who can register to vote. For you to obtain your PVC, you must be a citizen of Nigeria, you must have attained the age of eighteen (18) years and must work in or originate from a LGA council and ward covered by the registration officers of the commission for registration as a voter.
After meeting the requirements stated above, you can then present yourself to a registration officer of the commission for registration as a voter or start the process.
The law also stipulates rights and responsibilities of a voter which must be properly understood by the voter to avoid breaching the law.