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Thugs disrupt elections, steal BVAS machines – INEC Chairman

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that thugs disrupted voting in Delta and Katsina states, carting away eight Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS). INEC…

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that thugs disrupted voting in Delta and Katsina states, carting away eight Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS).

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Saturday in his briefing on the presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to him, in Oshimili LGA of Delta State, thugs attacked a polling unit (PU) and two BVAS machines were lost in the process.

Similarly, he said in Safana LGA of Katsina State, thugs attacked one of its voting locations and snatched six BVAS machines but security agencies have recovered three out of the six BVAS.

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He, however, lamented that the target of thugs is now the BVAS machines.

The INEC boss said that the commission’s duty was to ensure that the elections are free, fair, and credible.

“Happily, security agencies have recovered the BVAS machines but three are still held by the thugs. So in these locations, the target of attacks was the BVAS machines no longer our ballot papers or the ballot box,” Yakubu said.

He noted that this is the first time since 2011 that a general election has not been postponed.

He said, ”We ensure that we continue to do what is right. So, we consider it auspicious to address the nation at this point and we’re going to continue to do so during the day intermittently.

“Until we formally commence the coalition. So far, so good, generally speaking, what is going on nationwide the BVAS deployed nationwide is working optimally.”

Yakubu also said that from the reports that were received from the various states of the Federation, some challenges were identified, one of which is the inability of the open the polling units (PUs) at 8:30am.

He, however, assured that in line with the commission policies all voters in the queue at PU until 2:30pm will vote.

He blamed the challenge on the inability of its perennial logistic issue.

He added that one of the challenges identified was the inability of the commission in a number of places to open the PUs at the appointed time of 8:30am.

“Some of the PUs opened late. But in line with our policy, any Nigerian who is in the queue will have the opportunity to vote no matter how long it takes until the last person in the queue before 2:30pm votes.

“Some of the reasons why we could not open some of the polling units on time include; perennial problems of logistics in spite of our best efforts. I think we have conquered the challenge of getting election materials to various locations.

“Though there may be complaints here and there, but generally speaking, we have delivered millions of ballot papers and result sheets that we are supposed to deliver for the election,” Yakubu said.

He added that another contributing factor to the late opening of polling units is actually the perennial insecurity in the country.

He said that for instance, the commission could not deploy early enough to Alawa in Shiroro Local Government Area in Niger State.

According to him, bandits launched an attack, not necessarily on INEC offices or facilities but in the area.

He said, “With the advice of the security agencies, we tarried a while but I am happy to say that we are able to deploy to Alawa, and voting in that location is ongoing as we speak.”

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