INEC’s action came in the wake of widespread criticism by stakeholders and civil society groups who described the exercise as a barely disguised fraud aimed at enabling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
“INEC had to cave in to pressure and criticism and cancel this voter registration exercise that both the Action Congress of Nigeria and civil society groups have called an open fraud,” said a source within INEC’s headquarters.
The news of the cancellation was broken to party representatives as well as candidates of the various political parties running for the Edo governorship election that is scheduled for July, 2012.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole and leaders of the PDP were among the audience at the announcement. Representatives from the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the Labor Party, and the Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) also attended the meeting at the Abuja office of INEC.
The controversial decision to begin a fresh voters’ registration was reportedly calculated to enable the PDP to recruit fake voters from surrounding states to rig the election.
The questionable registration exercise led to violence in Benin City that claimed one life and had several other party supporters sustaining various degrees of physical injuries.
Tony Anenih, a chieftain of the PDP, has openly boasted that he would unseat Mr. Oshiomhole from the governorship. In turn, Governor Oshiomhole has promised to use the forthcoming election to demonstrate that Mr. Anenih is an overrated politician who only thrives in rigging elections.