… asks INEC to address challenges ahead of governorship elections
International civil society organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has released its initial reports from its observation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which were held on Saturday across the country.
According to the report, AAN had deployed 510 observers of the trained 650 to Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Rivers Jigawa, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Niger, Delta, Ekiti, Kwara, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe states. To facilitate the processing from the field, ActionAid established a technical room that fed into the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room with processed data.
Part of the observations included cases of evidence of late arrival of INEC staff and election materials, arrival of INEC staff at polling units without security personnel and reported cases of disruption and violence in some polling units in Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, and Enugu states, and the FCT.
While commending INEC for its one-day extension of the Presidential and National Assembly polls in some affected areas which had voting challenges, the group called on the electoral body to critically examine the challenges, to avoid a repeat during the state’s elections, which are only weeks away.
The report read in part, “Our field observation reveals the following: Evidence of late arrival of INEC staff and election materials in many polling units, with some polling stations opening as late as 11.30am such as in Rivers State, Ward 17 under Obio/Akpor LGA and Okumagba II in Warri South, Olodi Primary School, Delta State at 2.30pm.
“INEC staff arrived at some polling units with sensitive materials without security personnel. Evidence of unsealed election materials with some already thumb-printed ballot papers (e.g. LEA primary school, Saburi, a suburb of DeiDei in FCT).
“Some polling units continued voting till the early morning of Sunday 26th while others, especially women may be disenfranchised because of the late-night voting. This is evident in Gwarinpa Estate 2, Tipper Garage polling unit, SunnyVale Estate, and Lugbe Ako, all in FCT. This may lead to fatigue and stress on INEC officials and subsequently irreversible errors and omissions during the voting, sorting, and counting processes. The extension of voting hours into the early hours of Sunday has also contributed to a delay in uploading results on INEC portal. The security of both INEC staff, Voters and voting materials could be compromised because of late-night voting.
“Reported cases of disruptions and violence in Dekina LGA, Kogi state, and in Ikpanya Ward in Ibio Ibom LGA of Akwa Ibom where thugs disrupt and destroy electoral materials. Ballot boxes in two polling units in Mafoluku by Ijaiye area, Lagos were reportedly burnt, and some INEC’s ad-hoc staff were assaulted for reportedly being involved in some electoral offences, leading to disruptions in some polling units in places like Abakpa, Enugu State and Lugbe in FCT.
“ActionAid commends INEC for extending the Presidential and Senate election by a day in some locations with voting challenges. This largesse needs to be extended to more locations across Nigeria where voting commenced late and all registered voters at the polling unit are yet to vote.
“Nevertheless, we enjoin INEC to critically examine the challenges experienced today so that a repeat of the same at the state level elections are avoided. And the locations where elections continue today or may be combined with the gubernatorial elections should be made public”.