By Emmanuel Oladesu, Deputy Editor and Okodili Ndidi (Abuja)

• Ekiti, Bayelsa, Yobe, Gombe have least voters
• INEC begins clean-up of voter register

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to scrutinise the preliminary voter register for revalidation.

The goal, according to sources close to the electoral agency, is to clean up the register, detect and eliminate double registration.

However, the source, who is silent on the penalty for those who had registered more than once, said only the second registration will be voided; the first will be sustained.

The source said the commission attached great importance to a valid and non-controversial voter register as part of its preparations for next year’s polls.

No fewer than 93,303,016 eligible voters are now on the voter register. The registration ended last Sunday.

The Northwest, which recorded 22,672,373 registered voters, topped the table, trailed by the Southwest, which has 18, 332,191 voters.

However, the state-by-state analysis shows that Lagos is leading with 7,155,920 prospective voters, trailed by Kano’s 6,026,850 voters.

States with a lower number of voters are Ekiti (1, 034,811), Bayelsa (1,367, 834), Yobe (1,518,327) and Gombe (1,613, 517).

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has 1,556,197 voters.

Also, the demography of voters in the just Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) showed that more women registered than men.

According to the INEC website, 6,224,866 women registered while 6,074,078 men participated in the exercise.

The breakdown of the statistics shows that 8,784,677 youths between the ages of 18 and 34 were registered.

Those in the middle age bracket of 35-49 were 2,430,709; the elderly class (50-69 years), 956,017 and 70 and above, 127,541.

An INEC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said INEC had anticipated the surge in voter registration, which was aided by the various enlightenment and sensitisation programmes by the commission, political parties and civil society groups.

He, however, clarified that the total figures of 93,303,016 are not final, adding that the wheat has to be separated from the chaff.

He said the voter register will undergo scrutiny and technical verification before it is validated.

He said: “The current figure may not be final. There will be a clean-up of the list to detect double registration.

“If someone registers twice and it is detected, he or she will forfeit the second registration. The first will be sustained.”

According to the official, INEC has its time-tested mechanism for authenticating the genuineness of the voter register.

He added: “We will vet the entire register. We have our system. The system will detect through fingerprints, biometrics and other mechanisms all cases of fraud and sharp practices.”

The source said speed is of the essence, pointing out that the validated register should be ready, at least, 250 days before the commencement of next year’s general election.

He stressed: “There is no time to waste. The Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have to be printed and made available for collection within the stipulated period.”