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Presidential Poll: INEC Begins Collation Today

The outcome of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections will become clearer as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) begins collation today. As of press…

The outcome of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections will become clearer as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) begins collation today.

As of press time, Saturday results from the various polling units across the country were still trickling in.

Frontline presidential candidates – Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Musa Kwankawaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) – won in their respective polling units.

The candidates had, after casting their ballots, lauded the election process and expressed confidence of victory.

The exercise was described as largely peaceful, though there were cases of violence and disruption of voting exercise recorded in Lagos, Kogi and Bayelsa states.

There were also reports of the late start of voting and malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) in some polling units across the country.

Meanwhile, some prominent Nigerians and bigwigs of various political parties have failed to deliver their polling units for their parties’ presidential flag bearers.

They include the national chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, in whose polling unit LP’s Peter Obi won. However, Obi’s running mate, Ahmed Datti, lost his polling unit to APC’s Tinubu.

The Senate president, Senator Ahmad Lawan, equally failed to deliver his polling unit to the presidential candidate of his party, APC, as PDP’s Atiku won there.

Collation begins today – INEC chair

Speaking in Abuja yesterday, during the second situation briefing at the national collation centre, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu said the centre would be officially opened mid-day today for the collation of results.

He also announced the suspension of elections in 141 polling units in four wards of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, over insecurity.

He said the voting process was interrupted by thugs before security agencies were later reinforced.

He said the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members handling the affected PUs were apprehensive which led to the postponement.

Yakubu also said the processes were disrupted in some polling units in seven local government areas over insecurity and thuggery in Imo State.

Also affected were three LGAs in Edo State where elections were postponed to March 11 due to the omission of one of the political parties’ logo; available on the results sheet but not on the ballot paper.

The INEC chairman also said some BVAS were carted away by thugs.

“Unfortunately, we continue to lose some of the BVAS. I reported in the morning the loss of some devices. Unfortunately, we also lost three BVAS in Ayemelu in Anambra State, but we have recovered.

“There were issues arising from the commencement process in Abia, Imo and Kebbi among other places. I am happy to say that the process is ongoing in Abia. The polling units will remain open beyond the voting hour until the last person before 2:30pm votes.

“In Imo, the process is ongoing except in a few areas of PUs marked by insecurity and thuggery spread across seven LGAs and the situation in Kebbi State is stable. Voting is going on mainly in Birnin-Kebbi which was earlier affected.

“But in Bayelsa State, particularly in the capital, were four wards, Wards 4,6, 8, and 14 involving 141 polling units. The process was disrupted. We re-mobilised security to proceed with the process but the corps members expressed some apprehension about going back so we met with the security agencies and decided that voting in these 141 PUs where all the materials are intact will take place tomorrow morning,” Yakubu said.

He said there was an agreement to hold the election in these locations on Sunday.

“In Lagos, we have been closely following the situation in Okota, Mafoluku, Oshodi and Elegushi. We have been able to normalise the situation in a number of places and voting is ongoing, so we will keep our eyes on the processes in the other areas that I had mentioned.

“In a large number of PUs, voting is closed and sorting and counting have commenced. Between now and the last briefing, we have taken up a proactive step by meeting with the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser, and the Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps. The idea is to strengthen security as we move into the next stage of the process, which is a collation of results in locations where voting has been concluded at the polling units.

“I would also like to say that in Edo State. We had a situation that we handled yesterday; one of the parties whose logo is on the results sheet but is not on the ballot paper.

“In a meeting with the stakeholders, a decision was taken on the materials and the elections. So we have suspended the election for Esan North, South, and Iguebe.

“The ballot papers will be reprinted and the election will now hold along with the state elections on the 11th of March. That is in the next two weeks. We are determined that no Nigerian should be disenfranchised.

“So we have been responding to some of the situations as they arise. And we are going to do so overnight. We will open the collation centre tomorrow, so this is an update on the situation mentioned earlier,” he said.

Late start of polls, BVAS malfunction, violence recorded

The presidential and National Assembly elections held across the country yesterday were generally peaceful, with a few pockets of violence and disruptions of the exercise in some parts of the country.

However, there were reports of late arrival of INEC officials and election materials across many states of the country, which left voters stranded for hours before they could vote.

In Borno, INEC officials did not arrive at polling unit 023, Alhaji Kukawa, Lawan Bukar area of Maiduguri metropolis, which is the polling unit of the APC presidential running mate, Kashim Shettima, until 10:42 am.

In Abuja, some voters at the 007 Polling Unit in Wuse District Ward criticised INEC for the late commencement of the elections.

Also, in some areas in Abia, Imo, Nasarawa and other states of the federation, there were complaints of late commencement of polls due to the late arrival of election materials.

In Nasarawa State, our correspondent reports that the late arrival of election materials delayed the commencement of the election process in most of the polling units visited in Doma LGA.

The situation was not different in several areas of Edo State where voters, including Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, decried the late arrival of materials in Uzairue, Etsako West LGA of the state.

Similarly, voters in some polling units of Plateau State decried hitches witnessed during elections, including the late arrival of INEC staff, malfunctioning of the BVAS, relocation of polling units and missing voters’ names.

In Mado Gate polling Unit at Government Secondary School, Tudun Wada, Jos North, many voters said they were unable to find their names on the voters’ list and had to go about searching at other polling units.

At Apata Street in Jos North LGA, the BVAs failed to function, and INEC officials could not provide alternatives as expected, especially at zone C30 B.

One of the voters, Chuka Obi, said INEC officials kept them waiting for four hours, and when they arrived, the BVAs they came with were unable to capture their faces.

Similar experiences were recorded at polling unit 042 by Brightway along Tudun Wada, Jos North. INEC staff were also said to have arrived late at Bishara Maza Ward by Bauchi Ring Road in Angwan Rukuba Jos North; Barkin Acha Ward 015 Rantiya Jos South, and Post Office 2 Ward 171 in Rock Heaven Jos North, among other places.

The election also witnessed BVAS malfunctioning and violence in parts of Rivers State.

Governor Nyesom Wike and his wife were delayed for hours at his unit 7 ward 9 of Obio Akpor LGA because their names could not be captured by the BIVAS, with the governor expressing disappointment.

In Bauchi State, BVAS also malfunctioned in some areas, including the 008 polling unit at Gwarangah, the hometown of a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

Cases of BVAS malfunctioning and late start of voting were also witnessed in several polling units in Kwara State, including Ile-Bale polling unit (002) in Ajase- Ipo ward l, Irepodun LGA and Shao, Moro LGA.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, while casting his ballot at Idigba Polling Unit 004 in Adewole Ward of Ilorin West, expressed concern about reports of malfunctioning BVAS, while former Senate president Bukola Saraki, expressed concern about the late start of the process and called for an extension of voting time.

By Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Umar Muhammed (Lafia), Usman A. Bello (Benin),  Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Dickson S. Adama & Yusufu Aminu Idegu (Jos), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi) & Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin)