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Nigeria extends voter card distribution after delays

Friday was supposed to be the last day to pick up the cards but the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission said voters now had until Monday.

Supporters sit on camels during the ruling All Progressives Congress' (APC) candidate, incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari's presidential campaign rally at the Sanni Abacha Stadium in Kano, on 31 January 2019. Buhari has flag off campaign in Kano, the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria to seek re-election at the forthcoming February polls. Picture: AFP

LAGOS - Nigeria's electoral commission on Friday extended the deadline for voters to collect the biometric identity cards they need to cast their ballots, after complaints of slow distribution.

Friday was supposed to be the last day to pick up the cards but the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said voters now had until Monday.

The cards would be distributed over the weekend, he added.

"In the last couple of days, we have been inundated by calls, from Nigerians to review the current process of collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC)," he wrote on Twitter.

"We will continue to take every necessary step to ensure that no registered voter is disenfranchised."

Yakubu has promised INEC is "good to go" for the elections, at which President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term of office.

A record 84,004,084 voters have been registered for the February 16 presidential and parliamentary votes, which are followed on 2 March by governorship and state assembly polls.

Nigerians have complained on social media of being unable to pick up their cards despite trying repeatedly - and even being told to collect them after the elections were over.

At one collection centre in Lagos, thousands of people scrambled to get the cards, which voters present at polling units and are scanned by electronic readers to verify identity.

Tobiloba, 27, arrived at the site in the Lekki suburb at 5:30am (0430 GMT) and waited through heavy rain to collect his PVC.

"There is very little staff and they are also inefficient and disorganised in the distribution of the PVCs," he complained.

"They are sabotaging our efforts to vote and elect the candidate of our choice. It's unfair."