The Yiaga Africa, one of the accredited observers, has identified late commencement of polls, poor functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, communication glitches among other operational deficiencies that has characterised the ongoing FCT area council elections.
This is contained in the Yiaga Africa, election preliminary reports, read by the organisation’s Executive Director, Samson Itodo.
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He attributed the late opening of polling units to poor logistics and security problems.
According to him, polling officials encountered difficulty in locating assigned polling units (PUs) including the late arrival of police officers at the registration area centres (RACs).
“For instance, several PUs in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), especially Gwarimpa and Orozo ward opened late as polling officials couldn’t deploy without security protection, on average accreditation and voting commenced at 10 am in most PUs observed,” Itodo said.
On the functionality of the BVAS, he said its observation showed that in some cases the BVAS failed to authenticate both the fingerprints and facial biometrics of voters in some PUs.
The group also identified voter disenfranchisement as a result of missing names on the voter register, despite some voters having Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
He also observed that the imbalance in the distribution of voters to new PUs affected their effective management with over 1000 registered voters.
“The development led to overcrowding in some PUs, while some other units had as many as 2500 registered voters and a few having less than 5 voters within the same location,” he said.
He said that these inconsistencies question the reliability and accuracy of INEC’s framework for the expansion of PUs.
On the movement restrictions, he said, “Inconsistent communication on election security, we saw with dismay the confusion created by the irregularity in the information from the security agencies on the restriction of movement. These inconsistent communications from security agencies undermine public confidence in the transparency and objectivity of security agencies during elections.”
He added, “Our preliminary recommendation is that given the late opening of polls and glitches with the BVAS machines, INEC should extend the voting time to 4:30 pm especially in PUs with a high turnout of voters.
“The operational deficiencies noted in this election provide a compelling need for a comprehensive audit of the voter register, BVAS technology, elections logistics and distribution of voters to polling units.
“Again INEC officials should act in the utmost sense of integrity, transparency and professionalism in the collation and declaration of election results.”