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Late start, vote buying, malfunctioning BVAS mar FCT council polls

The Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections held yesterday witnessed late commencement and malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voters Authentication System (BVAS) in many polling units.…

The Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections held yesterday witnessed late commencement and malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voters Authentication System (BVAS) in many polling units.

In some wards and polling units (PUs) visited by our correspondent, accreditation and voting had not commenced as of 9:10am.

Voting was originally scheduled to begin by 8:30am and to end by 2.30pm.

Aside from the late arrival of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and materials in some PUs, there were widespread complaints about the malfunctioning of the BVAS machines.

The BVAS, which replaced the Smart Card Reader (SCR), has the dual capacity for fingerprint and facial identification to prevent the use of stolen voters’ cards or impersonation.

In some of the PUs in Area 2 in Garki, voters were seen complaining about the BVAS.

One of the voters, who simply identified himself as Boniface, said he had spent over two hours and yet to get accredited due to BVAS malfunctioning. All the five PUs in the area have the BVAS complaint.

Daily Trust on Sunday spoke with some of the election officials, including two presiding officers, who confirmed that the BVAS was not working smoothly.

“The machine (BVAS) is not working smoothly, it detects some faces and would not respond to fingerprint and also would not recognise some registered voters despite having their permanent voters card (PVCs) and their names on the register.

“I have however reported this to the appropriate authority and we are awaiting a replacement of the machine,” said one of the officials.

When our correspondent visited the INEC FCT office, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Alhaji Yahaya Bello, was said to have gone out on inspection and to also attend to other ‘field matters’ pertaining to the election.

One feared killed in Karu

A middle-aged woman was feared killed in Karu after she was knocked down by a supporter of one of the major political parties who was riding a motorcycle.

The incident happened at about 10:12am in PU048 in Salasi, opposite Post Office, Karu in Abuja Municipal Area Council.

The woman, a voter, was attempting to cross the road to her polling unit when she was knocked down.

The motorcyclist carrying the flag of one of the political parties rode in a frenzy as if he was under an influence.

Voters in the area immediately apprehended the motorcyclist and handed him over to security operatives around.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command had on Friday announced the relaxation of restriction of movement, urging residents to go about their normal duties.

But, at about midnight, the command again issued a notice of restriction, saying it was in receipt of credible intelligence that some miscreants were trying to cash in on the relaxed atmosphere to foment violence. 

Technical glitches in Zuba, Dei Dei, others

Residents of the Zuba, Dei Dei, Dakwa, Tunga Maje, and others areas of Gwagwalada and Bwari area councils expressed their frustrations over hours of delay witnessed at their various polling units.

The residents, who spoke to our correspondent in separate interviews, lamented that the technical glitches created by the BVAS were capable of disenfranchising them from exercising their rights.

In the same vein, party agents of various political parties were seen in places like Ikwa, Jibi, Yimi and other Polling Units in Zuba and Dei Dei, where Daily Trust on Sunday visited, buying votes from electorates, mostly women as low as N500.

For instance, some suspected political thugs in PU 001 A and B at Ikwa Ward 9, located at LEA Primary School in Ikwa, Zuba, threatened to beat our reporter for trying to take some shots of the vote buying scenes.

The thugs, who accused the journalist of filming them while distributing some cash among the voters, said they would inflict some injuries if he tried further to capture the scene.

The security agents on the ground looked the other way while the agents kept buying votes.

The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate for Gwagwalada Area Council, Mohammed Kassim, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday at the premises of LEA Primary School in Zuba, berated the INEC over the malfunctioning of BVAS.

He said, ”The turnout, I will say it’s okay, people have tried, except that INEC is disappointing us, for the fact that machines they are using are not working.

”And again, we are calling on them again to adhere to the three options of authenticating a voter, thumb printing, face identification or VIN number of which they are rejecting.

”I have drawn the attention of the INEC supervisor that whoever that cannot be authenticated through thumbprint, they should use the picture, and if the picture cannot be captured, use VIN.”

Poll marred by poor logistics, security  –Yiaga

The Yiaga Africa, one of the accredited observers, has blamed the challenges that characterised the council elections on poor logistics and security problems.

This is contained in the election preliminary reports read by the organisation’s Executive Director, Samson Itodo.

According to him, polling officials encountered difficulty in locating assigned polling units (PUs) while security agencies arrived late 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 the average, accreditation and voting commenced at 10am in most PUs observed,” Itodo said.

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 five voters within the same location,” he said. 

He said that these inconsistencies questioned the reliability and accuracy of the INEC framework for the expansion of PUs. 

Residents sell votes for N1000 – CDD

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) also confirmed that the election was characterised by vote buying and some other malpractices.

The CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, said this while presenting the organization’s preliminary statement on the elections.

“As in previous elections, vote-buying was very rampant during the polls. CDD Observers reported cases of vote-buying in Gwagwalada, Abaji, AMAC, Kwali, Bwari and Kuje. However, vote buying was more pronounced in the five other area councils compared to AMAC, with vote trading for as low as N1000 and up to N3000.

The CDD also urged INEC to ensure effective and timely upload of polling units (PUs) results on its result viewing (IREV) portal.

She urged the security agencies to demonstrate neutrality by creating the enabling environment for a fair contest by all contestants in the race.

She added that analysis from the CDD field report showed that the BVAS functionality was highest in the AMAC compared to other area councils with most cases of non-functionality recorded in Kuje and Abaji area councils.

Hassan also lamented the low or no voter turnout, especially in the AMAC, with a polling station with four polling units in Ward 5 in AMAC not recording a single voter turnout.

“In Abaji Ward 06 PU 003, a group of thugs invaded the PU and carted away the ballot box and other electoral materials,” she added.


Abbas Jimoh, Adam Umar, Idowu Isamotu

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