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After Initial Card Reader Failure: Nigerians persevere, vote in peaceful elections

*Jonathan, frustrated by SCR: I am hopeful

*I am satisfied with polls – Buhari

*INEC’s website hacked, restored; polls shifted to today in problem areas

*Soldier, 2 others killed in Rivers; one in Osun

*Man caught with 300 PVCs in Ebonyi

Nigerians demonstrated rare perseverance, yesterday, when they trooped out in large numbers to vote in presidential and National Assembly elections characterised by Smart Card Readers (SCRs) hitches and late arrival of materials at polling stations.

Even President Goodluck Jonathan, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the polls, and his wife, Patience, were not spared of the hitches.

Jonathan was issued with Incident Form for accreditation after five SCRs failed to read his thumbprint.

Jonathan casting his vote
Jonathan casting his vote

The First Lady was also accredited with the Incident Form.

In Enugu, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to discard the use of SCRs for the polls after he could not secure accreditation with the machine.

Ekweremadu, too, was accredited with the Incident Form.

But Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), scaled the SCR hurdle.

“I think I am satisfied with the whole process so far,”Buhari, told journalists minutes after he was accredited for the polls at his Sarkinyara Ward A Kaafar Baru 0003 Polling Unit, Daura, Katsina State.

On his part, Jonathan was optimistic he will be victorious in the election.

Speaking on the SCR hitches, the President said only the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, could explain.

Other highlights of the polls include the hacking into the website of INEC by a group which called itself the ‘Nigerian Cyber Army’.

The website was later restored.

The polls also witnessed some pockets of violence.

Explosions rocked Enugu and Gombe although the Inspector General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, said both incidents were unrelated to the polls.

A soldier and two other persons were reportedly killed in Rivers State while a chieftain of the PDP was said to have been shot dead in Osun State.

A man was allegedly arrested with 300 PVCs in Ebonyi State.

Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the polls, and his wife, Patience, were not spared of the hitches.

Jonathan was issued with Incident Form for accreditation after five SCRs failed to read his thumbprint.

The First Lady was also accredited with the Incident Form.

In Enugu, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)  to discard  the use of  SCRs  for the polls after he could not secure accreditation with the machine.

Ekweremadu, too, was accredited with the Incident Form.

But  Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), scaled the SCR  hurdle.

“I  think I am satisfied with the whole process so far,”Buhari, told  journalists minutes after he was accredited for the polls at his Sarkinyara Ward A Kaafar Baru 0003 Polling Unit, Daura, Katsina State.

On his part, Jonathan was optimistic he will be victorious in the election.

Speaking on the SCR  hitches, the President said  only the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, could explain.

Other highlights of the polls include the hacking into the website of INEC by a group  which called itself the ‘Nigerian Cyber Army’.

The website  was later restored.

The polls also witnessed some pockets of violence.

Explosions rocked  Enugu and Gombe  although the Inspector General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, said  both incidents were unrelated to the polls.

A soldier and two other persons were reportedly killed in Rivers State while a chieftain of the PDP was said to have been shot dead in Osun State.

A man was allegedly arrested with 300 PVCs in Ebonyi State.

As the results of the polls tricked in, last night, there were indications that Vice President Namadi Sambo won in his unit. He lost in his lost in his unit  inthe 2011 polls.

Bayelsa: Drama as Card Reader frustrates Jonathan, wife

In Bayelsa State, the presidential and National Assembly polls were  characterized by delay in arrival of materials, technical errors and malfunctioning of the SCRs during the accreditation of voters in most wards in the state.

The SCR rejected the PVCs of President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, both of whom arrived their polling unit at about 9.15am

This caused a long delay as the INEC staff deployed to Polling Unit 039, Otuabula Ward 13 struggled to rectify the problem.

The President stood patiently for about 40 minutes waiting for the problem to be rectified by an INEC technician. But the wife, and President’s mother, Madam Eunice Jonathan, were provided seats to make them comfortable.

While the drama lasted,  the SCR could not accredit the President and his wife causing the duo to resort to the filling of Incident Form.

However, the SCR cleared the President’s mother and his ADC. The malfunctioning machine  caused a long queue even as voters defied the scorching sun to be accredited.

Also cleared by the SCR in his home town, Toru-Orua, in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State was Governor Seriake Dickson who was cleared at about 9.30am.

The exercise was also smooth at Opokuma, the home town of Timi Alaibe, a former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, where eligible voters came out in large number to cast their votes.

The exercise was also smooth at the Opolo polling unit of Senator Emmanuel Paulker where voters turned out in large number. But it was a problem for voters at Gbarain in one of the units in Yenagoa council area where the SCRs failed to function.

The SCR also failed to clear the state deputy governor who was at the coastal turn of Nemebe for the exercise causing him to fill the Incident Form.

Rivers: Amaechi, supporters shun elections

*Soldier, two others shot dead

Main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari casts his ballot at a polling station in the "Gidan Niyam Sakin Yara A ward" at Daura in Katsina State on March 28, 2015.   Voting began in Nigeria's general election but delays were reported countrywide because of technical problems in accrediting electors.  AFP PHOTO
Main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari casts his ballot at a polling station in the “Gidan Niyam Sakin Yara A ward” at Daura in Katsina State on March 28, 2015.
AFP PHOTO

In Rivers State, Governor Chibuike Amaechi  and his supporters in his Ward 8, Unit 14, Ubima in  Ikwerre Local Government  Area shunned  the elections, blaming alleged failure of  INEC to come with  result sheets to the unit.

Meanwhile, the Brigade Commander, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Koko Essien, said a soldier was killed  by suspected thugs in Obio Akpor local government area of the state.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that one person was also shot dead in Oghale, Ward 3, Unit 2 in  Eleme Local Government  Area while effort was on to begin accreditation of voters. Another  person was  killed in Ozuah community in Ikwerre Local Government Area.

A close aide to the member representing Degema/Bonny constituency in the  House of Representatives,   Dr Sokonte Davies, dismissed  the fear  in several quarters  that the lawmaker was abducted. The source, who said he established contact with the lawmaker when the news broke out, said Davies  simply withdrew into his closet for security reasons.

In Asari Toru Local Government  Area, there was exchange of fire between security operatives and some hoodlums. In Ward 9, thugs allegedly hijacked  election materials.

Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South East  in the Senate, alleged that there was no election in all parts of his constituency. But  the Minister of State for Industry, Mr Kenneth Kobani, and a youth leader, Mr Marvin Yobana, dismissed the allegation.

According to  Kobani, elections went on peacefully in all the wards in Bodo,   headquarters of Gokhana Local Government Area.

In Biera, the home town of  Abe, in Khana Local Government Area, suspected thugs smashed vehicles parked in the house of a PDP chieftain in the area.

The Senator also alleged that he was attacked in Kpor community.

The Chairman of  the Caretaker Committee in Akuku Toru  Local Government Area, Chief Benibo, told newsmen that he had asked members of his All Progressive Congress (APC)  in the area to withdraw from the elections, alleging that his party members were being harassed.

Accreditation of voters started  behind schedule in several polling units because of late arrival of materials. Also ad hoc staff of INEC had to resort to manual accreditation of voters because of the  failure of the SCRs  to function properly in several polling units.

Absence of  election result sheets during accreditation of voters was an issue in several polling units. Some analysts who spoke on this said  that, by the electoral  law provision, result sheet should only be brought for signing by party agents.

In Opobo, the home town of the APC governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside election materials arrived very late.

It was a similar problem in several wards in Obio Akpor local government area where the APC governorship candidate, Barr Nyesom Wike, voted.

A  former Chief of Staff, Government House and candidate of the  APC for the Obio Akpor  Federal Constituency, Mr.Tony Okocha,  said result sheets were missing in all the 17 wards in the local government area. But this was dismissed as untrue by some voters.

The Director of Communications of  the APC governorship campaign organisation, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, in a statement, alleged that the PDP connived with INEC in the state to rig the elections.

Unconfirmed reports  said  because of  late arrival of materials in Opobo, the election might. Be shifted to today.

Osun: PDP member shot dead

Reports from Osun State said a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Yomi Ademola, was shot dead by hoodlums in Ikirun. The victim was said to be a strong member of the APC before he defected to the PDP. He was reportedly killed in Idi-Oro area of the town. Three suspects had been arrested.

Ebonyi: SCRs fail to authenticate voters

*Correct lapses, Anyim tells INEC

In Ebonyi,  accreditation did not start  at  8am as scheduled  as voters were seen at polling units awaiting voting materials and electoral officials.

At 003 Onunuakpu and 001 Nwakpu Market Square, Ndufu Alike, SCRs  failed to authenticate  voters.

Because of the failure of the SCRs, electoral officials  gave out Incident Forms to  accredit voters.

Meanwhile, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim,  charged INEC to  correct the lapses  in the accreditation process linked to the SCRs  in order to give credibility to the polls.

Anyim, who spoke to journalists in his home in Isiagu, Ebonyi State, said,”I have done my own accreditation. It was successful. But reports from most of the polling units indicate that the card reader is not working.

“INEC should correct the lapses experienced in this exercise to give credibility to the polls”.

On the bomb blast in Enugu,the SGF said,”it is surprising. The good thing is that there is no casuality.

“Based on that,the motive behind the action has been defeated.”

Man caught with 300 PVCs

Also in Ebonyi, yesterday, a  man, Ozemena Odeta, was allegedly arrested at Ekawoke Ward in Ikwo Local Government Area  while distributing  300 PVCs  allegedly snatched from  INEC staff during the distribution exercise in the area.

Speaking to journalists  after his accreditation, the state Deputy Coordinator, Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization, Ambassador Franklin Ogbuewu, stated that the suspect disappeared from the community after stealing the cards but resurfaced during the elections, yesterday.

He noted that the suspect was arrested by the police while distributing the PVCs  to voters who agreed to for his candidate.

According to Ogbuewu, reports reaching him from different parts of the state showed  that the SCRs  failed to authenticate most voters.

“I want to inform you that the person that snatched about 300 PVCs from  the INEC staff during the last distribution exercise has been arrested by the police; immediately after the theft, the guy disappeared from the community but resurfaced during the elections”.

A police source, which  confirmed the development, added that the police in the area had commenced investigation to ascertain the involvement of any other suspects.

Lagos: Osinbajo worried

*Tinubu urges patience

Vice President Namadi Sambo cast his vove
Vice President Namadi Sambo cast his vove

LAGOS witnessed a huge turnout of voters for the elections but many of them were disappointed and would have to come out today to exercise their franchise.

Though the elections went on smoothly in some locations especially Somolu, there were hitches and complaints in many areas. The hitches include non-availability of electoral officers in a few polling units, late arrival of electoral officers and commencement of voting, malfunctioning smart card readers, outright failure of the cards to function, and inability of some voters to locate their polling and voting points among others.

Most of the polling units  in Amuwo Odofin, Igando, Oriade, Alimosho, Ojo,  Oto Awori and Badagry local councils had issues with non and late arrival of sensitive materials.

Accreditation commenced between 11 and 12 am in some polling units in Badagry, Festac, Igando, Mushin, Oke Afa, Ikotun, Ejigbo.

In Igando, the situation was dire. At PU 017, Igando, the polling unit had up to 6000 registered voters with 11 sub polling units but they did not conclude accreditation until about 4.30 pm due to card reader issues.

Some of the frustrated voters told Vanguard that the issue began with the submerging of large voting units in the area into polling unit 017 without proper identification of where registered voters in every unit will go for accreditation.

Late Accreditation in Lekki

When Vanguard visited VGC area at 8:40am INEC officials were not available but observers, media and people were waiting patiently.

Accreditation started very late at Lekki generally because as at 9:15am, voting materials were still being sorted and shared  among corps members at Ikota Primary School, Lekki, where the materials were stored.

At Oniru Estate, Lekki Phase1, nothing was happening as at 10am as people were waiting helplessly for INEC officials.

Voters were given tags as they waited for INEC officials. The accreditation started around 12pm in Lekki/Ibeju Lekki area Lagos. Enthusiasm of voters was very high.

At Bonny Camp, accreditation started at  four polling units around 9:45am and it took less than a minute for the reader to verify the dossiers of each voter.

Osinbajo, wife worried over hitches

In VGC, Lekki where the All Progressives Congress (APC) Vice Presidential Candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and his wife voted, the accreditation process did not start until about 10 am.  When the process eventually started, the card reader was non functional. The development got Osinbajo and his wife worried.

Smooth balloting in Somolu

At about 20 polling units at Somolu, the turn out of voters was not only high but also accreditation and voting went on smoothly.

Accreditation in most of the polling units in the area  started as early as 8am, while voting started some minutes past 1:30pm.

In a few cases where the card reader did not capture the biometrics of voters, the incident form was used.

At ward 30 C at Apata Street, Somolu, voting commenced at about 1:42 after INEC officials urged voters to ascertain the validity of the ballot papers with signature and stamp at the back.

INEC officials gave preference to pregnant women, the elderly and physically challenged.

It was learned that of the 240 voters who registered at ward 3QC, Apata Street, Somolu, 97 turned up for accreditation, while 168 were accredited of  the 567 registered voters in ward O C.

Ijegun Imore, Satellite, Alakija

In Ijegun Imore New site in Oriade Local Development Area, which has over 1000 houses, there is no polling booth for the teeming residents. Some voters who registered across the water in Ijegun Imore could not get boats  to ferry them across.

At PU 008, Alakija, Satellite Town, the card reader did not work. The presiding officer, after communicating with his superiors said there would be manual accreditation and voting will take place today, a move the voters opposed at press time.

Kirikiri, Mazamaza

It was complaints galore at most polling booths and voting points in Kirikiri, Mazamaza and Kuje-Amuwo areas. Election officers were not available at most polling units as of 10.30 am

At Dr Lucas Memorial Secondary School which served as voting points and election materials distribution point, some electoral officers refused to carry electoral materials to the polling units because the card readers were not working.

At Open Space polling unit, Berger (PU 031), only one of the two voting points had a card readers as voters queuing in the sun complained. Voters whose surname started from A to M could not be accredited as of 11 am.

At PU 003 at Kirikiri there was no INEC official at 10.30 am. At Comfort Oboh/Okoduwa (PU 027) INEC officials went away at 10am when the three card readers did not function. At Oyewole Primary School, Mazamaza only two of the three voting points had card readers at 11am.

At PU 055 at Kuje Amuwo, there was no INEC official at 4.30 pm.

Accreditation in some polling units was grounded owning to failure of card reader machines as voters were seen in groups expressing their anger and disappointment with some of them accusing INEC of planning to disenfranchise them as there were yet to be accredited as at 11:30 am.

Card readers at polling units 069 in Oshodi, 019 Oduduwa Way, 016  and 006 in Opebi Road and 03/07, 006, 004 all in Adeniyi Jones were not functioning.

‘Why cards malfunctioned’

Some INEC officials attributed the failure of the card readers to INEC engineers who could decode the inbuilt security installation in the card reader.

The security code in the card reader is reportedly designed to update the time and date of voting. One official claimed that the cards were initially programmed for February 14 that with the postponement to March 28, some of the cards had not been re-programmed.

An All Progressive Congress, APC Agent, Mr. Lanre. Adebola who confirmed the faulty card readers, said: “Everything is working accordingly but card readers are not operational. We have made calls to the engineers and they said they are coming but they are yet to arrive and voters are getting agitated, he stated.

Okota, Isolo, Ikotun, Egbe

Some areas where INEC officials arrived late include some polling units around Okota, Jakande Estate and Isolo. As at 9;30am officials were yet to arrive while voters turned out en masse.

Card reader hassles were also witnessed in Ikotun, Egbe and Ejigbo areas where some card readers were slow or did not accredit some voters.

For instance, at Jakande Estate |PU 002, voters arrived  as early as 7 am but the accreditation did not commence until 9am. Some voters complained of not being accredited because of the challenges posed by the three card readers that were allocated to the unit. To ensure that every registered voter is accredited, the INEC officers resorted to manual accreditation.

The situation was not different at Lamoshe polling units 001, 002 and 003, and units 057 and 058 in Ejigbo, where the exercise started at about 3pm.

At unit 34, in Oke Afa, Isolo, about 300 voters were accredited there were three card readers rejection forms, a party agent at the polling unit, said that the INEC  officials came at about 10:15 am two hours and the card reader initially was faulty.

Bomb scare

There was a bomb scare in Ejigbo area at about 10:25 am during the accreditation of voters. People were suspicious of a Mazda vehicle with plate number DY 135 ABC parked close to polling unit 04. They said they were not going to vote if the car is not removed from the area as they woke up to see the vehicle there. They kept complaining until a police patrol team opened the car, checked and then moved it out of the polling unit.

Ifako, Gbagada

The card readers were not functioning  at several polling units, as at 1pm,  in  Ifako and  Gbagada areas. At PU 039, no voter  was accredited  because the card reader was not functioning.  At unit 019 Ajayi  Anio Street, the voters said the INEC official got there at 11am and the card readers were also not working.

At units 001 and 062 in Gbagada, the card readers were not working. Voters complained that  INEC officials refused to accredit them manually. As at 1:34 pm, accreditation was yet to commence in unit 114 Agboyi/Ketu area.                                                                                                                         At Abati in Surulere, 590 voters were registered, 92 were accredited as at 11: 35, while only three voters failed the biometric test.

Festac Town

In Festac Town, the exercise was marred by a number of defective  card readers.

At the 3rd Avenue Primary School, Festac Town, although INEC officials arrived promptly at about 8 am., Madam Ajewole Abolanle was bitter that having been at the polling booth since 8 a.m. the card reader for PU 019A was not working as at the 10.30 am.

Contacted, the INEC Presiding Officer, said the card reader had not been properly re-configured.

At Polling Unit 054,  Amuwo Odofin Extension, the exercise smooth and card readers did not have issues.

NASS ballot papers missing in Ward C, Ikorodu

In Ward 3 C Ikorodu West, Agric Area, only ballot paper for the presidential election was available as INEC officials failed to produce ballot papers for Senate and House of Representatives candidates.

Ikeja

Voting at PU 008, Ward 3, Magoje/Randle Street, St Peter’s Primary School, Ikeja, was suspended and postponed till today because the card reader did not function. The INEC’s presiding officer, Mayor Alani Okiki Opomosu, said the postponement was necessary to ensure the voters were not disenfranchised.

Exercise a failure –Senator Remi Tinubu

The lawmaker representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, lampooned the INEC over the “shoddy handling of the polls”.

Senator Tinubu, who spoke with newsmen at the Polling Unit located on Bourdillon Road expressed worry that some electorate may be disenfranchised at the end of the voting exercise.

She said: “I have been here since 8am and nothing has happened here but we are expectant and we will definitely berth the election and by then, everybody will be happy.”

The lawmaker decried the late commencement of voters’ accreditation saying, “as far as this election is concerned, it is a failure. This is a total failure. This shows incompetence and unpreparedness despite the assurance given by INEC. But I believe that INEC should be able to prove the presidency wrong by getting it right. We know something is going on but we will vote and our votes will be counted, it will not be stolen. I am waiting even if it means waiting till 6pm and I will file a report.”

Kosofe, Somolu, Ikeja, Yaba

At many polling points in Kosofe, Somolu, Ikeja and Yaba local governments, accreditation did not start until 3:30 pm, after the electoral body changed its strategy to allow manual accreditation.

At Randle/Megaje polling unit with code EC 30 A, (008), the Smart Card Reader was completely faulty and the electoral officials could not commence the accreditation until 3:30 pm.

Major Alani Okikioposun, a resident of the community lamented: “I arrived here before 8:00 am with the intention to vote. But at this time (11: 30 am), I am yet to be accredited. And the excuse the official gave was that the card reader is faulty. And until the technician from INEC comes, they cannot work. The reaction of the electoral official angered some of us. And it took the intervention of the community leaders to pacify the angry electorate,” he added.

Okikioposun later informed Vanguard that accreditation commenced at 3:30 pm and ended one hour after, while voting started at 4:30 pm.

In Kosofe Local Government, sources said that the sensitive electoral materials didn’t arrive until 4:00 pm, and the electoral officials completed the accreditation a few hours later.

When Vanguard visited Ogudu Health Centre, Kosofe Local Government with code 083 at 3:30 pm, the electorates including Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora were seen waiting for the arrival of the sensitive materials.

Be patient, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu urge Nigerians

A former Governor of Lagos state and National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, urged Nigerians to exercise patience and be tolerant especially with the use of the card readers.

Speaking after his accreditation at INEC polling  zone EC30B, Ward 47 Alausa Ikeja, Tinubu said if the voting exercise continues the way it is, the election result will be credible.

According to him, Nigerians may have to endure more but in the future, the card reader might be the only way to go.

His words: “I believe that as the election is going, you just need to be patient because of the new system of identification. We must have to be tolerant and people may have to endure more but as we go ahead and move on in the future, it will be the only way to go”.

Commenting on the credibility of the polls so far, Tinubu said:  “I cannot say from one polling booth.  Until we get the validity test from reports from various polling booths before we can say. If we continue like this, it will result in a credible election”.

Calling on the INEC to protect Nigeria’s democracy, he said: “I hope INEC will work hard to protect this democracy. If General Obasanjo and General Abdulsalam Abubakar say there must be peace, there must be peace, honestly. If it takes President Obama of United States to support peace and appeal for the commitment of our nation, then we should not preach violence. We should not react violently, we should tell our people to vote”.

Tinubu, however, denied sending messages to his supporters to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying it is part of the gimmick and desperation of the ruling party.

“This is my phone and I can make it public again. I did not send any text message. That is part of the gimmick and the desperation of the ruling party and that is fraudulent. I did not authorize any text message to anyone. I cannot campaign today but I know what I have told my supporters and the supporters of our party. You all know which party I belong to and you know the candidate of that party. That is the text message that I will ask people to believe.’’

He went further, “What kind of leadership, what kind of legacy, what kind of ethics are we teaching? If I have to compromise anything, is it the platform I helped build and by the grace of God is the best platform that is available? I will go any extent to investigate this if my phone has been cloned.’’

Borno: Problem operating SCRs

In Borno State, 10  out of 100 eligible voters were recognized and verified by the SCR at the Mohammed Maina Polling Unit 069 in Polo area of Maiduguri metropolis.

At Polling Unit 070 in Satumari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, an observer, Mr. Abubakar Umar, said  the INEC adhoc staff sent to conduct the exercise had a problem operating the systems, particularly the computer and the SCR, pointing out that they had been at the polling unit since 7am, but, up till 10:30am, not a single voter had been accredited.

Umar said  people were stranded as INEC officials had returned to their head office to try to resolve the problem.

The presiding officer, Mustapha Umar Ali, said, “We are encountering many problem regarding the SCR and verification of PVCs and thumb prints. We have asked voters  to exercise patience, as we will give them incident form to fill,” he stated.

Kwara: Frantic efforts to resolve SCR issues

In Kwara State, the turn out was impressive across the state.

In Magaji Are Ward 2, GRA, Ilorin,  opposite the residence of  the  state commissioner of police, the election  was peaceful, according to Bello Kayode, the INEC officer there.

There were, however,  hitches in Idofian Ward 2 where all the SCRs  did not work by 10.35am while electoral officials  were working frantically to solve the problem. It was the same situation at  Popo Polling Unit  in Offa.

The senator  representing Kwara Central on the platform of APC, Dr Bukola Saraki, who was  seeking re-election, in an interview,  commended the peaceful conduct of the elections.

Speaking shortly after being accredited at his Ajikobi Ward, Ilorin, Saraki said  the peaceful conduct of the polls was a clear indication that the electorate  was  yearning for change.

In Ile- Magaji Baboko Polling Unit in Ilorin West  Local Government Area, another chieftain of the APC,  Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, expressed optimism that the exercise was successful.

He assured that the ACP presidential candidate, Buhari, will win the election.

Enugu: SCR rejects Ekweremadu’s thumbprint

In Enugu State, the Deputy Senate President,Ike Ekweremadu, appealed to INEC to discard   the use of the SCRs for accreditation in the polls,having failed to accredit him at Amachara Primary School, Mpu, Aninri,Local Government Area.

Ekweremadu, who arrived the polling unit at exactly 11.06 am in the company of his wife, Nwanneka, was crest fallen when the SCR failed to work.

He was, however, accredited with the Incident Form.

“A presidential election as huge as this should not be used as a pilot scheme for the card reader technology”, the Senate principal officer said.

“The card reader is not functioning optimally. It has made accreditation slow and stressful.

“INEC did not listen to our advice. This card reader should have been tried in a bye-election or supplementry election before a major election as this. INEC should immediately discard it and allow everybody who presents his PVC to be accredited and vote.

“The card reader is not recognised by the Electoral Act. It is not in our Constitution. I and my wife had to be accredited manually”.

At Enugu-North senatorial zone, electoral officials were yet to arrive as at 11.55am many polling centres at Olido,Imufu,Umuida and Okurutte, all in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area.

Distribution of materials was yet to commence in most rural areas in Enugu-North senatorial zone.

Meanwhile, an  explosion rocked  WTC School 1, Polling Unit, Enugu around  7.38am, learning electoral officials and prospectors voters scampering for safety.

Two explosives  were detonated at about 8.56am at the same premises by the operatives of the Anti-Bomb Squad of the Enugu State Police Command.

According to an eyewitness,the bombs were  kept  in a Honda car  parked beside the gate of the school.

At  the time of  this report, accreditation had not started at the centre and most centres in the state.

Enugu State  Commissioner  of  Police,Dan Bature, confirmed the  explosion at the polling unit. Saying, “Three bombs were found in a Honda Accord car.

“One of the bombs exploded while we have just successfully detonated two. It was an Improvised Explosive Device, IED.

“We are working assiduously to  unravel the identity of the suspects. The suspects abandoned the car at the gate of the school. We are working to make  the area safe.”

Meanwhile, the state PDP gubernatorial  candidate, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, cast his vote at his Amube Ohum Ward 1 and  2 Polling Centre in Orba, in Udenu Local Government Area  at about 3.05pm.

Ugwuanyi’s running mate,Mrs. Cecilla Ezeillo, voted at her Aguobu-owa Ward 1,in Ezeagu Local Government Area.

Ezeillo was  pleased that  INEC approved  the use of manual accreditation in areas where the SRCs   malfunctioned during the elections.

Anambra: ‘Card Readers not working’

In Onitsha, Anambra State, many voters were  disenfranchised as a result of the failure of the SCRs  to function in most polling units in the state.

Mostly affected  were  Idemili North,   Idemili South, Ihiala, Ekwusigo and Anambra East   local government  areas.

According to an All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, leader in Nkpor Ward 1, Idemili North Local Government Area, Chief Ralph Nnabuife, “the card reader in the 17 polling booths are not working”.

“As you can see, we have been here   since morning. INEC officials came early but we are surprised that the card reader  failed,” he posited.

Also, the APGA Vice Chairman in the state, Chief   Ifeanyi   Udokwu Ekwueme, said “ the people turned out en masse to elect their representatives but the card reader failed them.”

Niger: SCR failure in most polling units

*IBB, Abdulsalami preach peace

In Niger State, two former military heads of state, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar,  called on Nigerians to maintain peace  during and after the elections to  allow democracy to thrive  in the country.

The two former Nigerian leaders, who spoke to journalists at the Uphill  Polling Unit  where they were accredited for the polls, yesterday, maintained that democracy could only thrive under a peaceful atmosphere.

Abubakar said,”Like I have often preached, democracy can only thrive  under  a  peaceful atmosphere and this is why we should all remain peaceful throughout these  elections especially after.”

Babangida  said,”Violence cannot in any way do anybody any good and so people should be peaceful throughout the elections.”

The former military president, who came out for accreditation around 9:40am, explained why he was hard on those embarking on campaign of calumny against former military leaders because they were trying to ridicule not only those who were concerned but also the profession.

On the election, accreditation and voting went on smoothly in Minna, the state capital and in most local government areas of the state.

There was massive turn out by the electorate amid SCR failure in most polling units across Niger State.

While some polling units commenced with the use of the new technology successfully, they soon collapsed thereby forcing the electoral officers to fall back  to  manual accreditation.

The exercise was peaceful except for the pockets of protests from some eligible voters who could not be accredited  because of the SCR hitches.

Cross River: ‘Card Readers failed woefully’

In Cross River State, Governor Imoke urged National Electoral  INEC to ensure that the failure that characterized the presidential and National Assembly elections is avoided in the April 11 governorship and House of Assembly polls.

Voters from an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Maiduguri queue to get registered for Nigeria's presidential elections in Maiduguri on March 28, 2015. Polling stations opened in Nigeria today, the electoral commission said, as voters went to the polls to elect a new president in what is being seen as the closest campaign in the country's history.  AFP PHOTO
Voters from an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Maiduguri queue to get registered for Nigeria’s presidential elections in Maiduguri on March 28, 2015. Polling stations opened in Nigeria today, the electoral commission said, as voters went to the polls to elect a new president in what is being seen as the closest campaign in the country’s history. AFP PHOTO

Imoke, who gave the charge shortly after casting his vote at the Government Primary School, Itigidi, in Abi Local Government Area, advised that INEC should not use malfunctioning SCRs to disenfranchise Nigerians. He stated: “The most important thing in voting is that everybody must have the right to vote and you must not disenfranchise anyone for failure of equipment, it is wrong and INEC must admit that.

“We have a situation where the machine fails and they do not have enough Incident Forms, and it is so unfair. If using a machine was to give the process credibility, I don’t think we have achieved that in these elections. I believe that the card reader machine has failed woefully. It is most unfortunate, there is no basis for this.” Lamenting what he said was INEC insistence on the use of card reader, Governor Imoke said: “This is what we continually emphasized that card readers should not disenfranchise Nigerians and INEC has recognized this fact that when the card reader fails, manual voting should be used. We have received a series of complaints and challenges which I hope at the end of the day we will overcome and credible elections achieved.”

Abuja: Officials arrange washing of fingers

In Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the turnout was impressive.

But at Bwari Polling Unit 04, one of the SCRs, out of the four deployed to accredit 5,000 voters, packed up.

Another failed to accredit  voters with dirty finger prints as  INEC adhoc staff had to beg residents to fetch water to enable voters wash their fingers.

Also at 005 Unit, a register with names of voters starting with alphabets M-Z could not be located.

The Bwari Resident Electoral Officer contacted INEC head office which ordered manual register to accommodate the missing names.

At Zango Unit 006, Kuduru Ward, the turnout was impressive as voters  besieged the unit as early as 5am and accreditation  commenced at 8.30am.

Meanwhile, there was high military personnel presence  on the major road from Gwagwalada, through Kwali to Abaji.

The atmosphere in Abaji  was calm with large turnout of intending voters who queued for accreditation.

Voters came out as early as 8am for the accreditation. At Wazam Polling Unit, one of the SCRs was bad while another was  slow. At a polling unit by the Ona of Abaji, voters were  accredited  but the machines were very slow.

At  Sokondobo Street, as at 9.30 am, materials were not available, but voters lined up waiting for them. At Naharati, Agyna Road, Padagi, accreditation was also slow and,  for ten minutes, the SCR laboured  to take the thumb print of one person. The INEC officials resorted  to the use of Incidence Forms with names written and voters asked to thumb print.

Ekiti: Deputy gov, APC in shooting row

In Ekiti State, the elections went on smoothly. But one person identified as Jide Owolabi  was allegedly shot when some hoodlums attacked the convoy of the deputy governor,Dr Olusola Olubunmi Eleka  while he was about to cast his vote at Odo Oja area,Ikere Ekiti

Owolabi was said to have been shot when security operatives in the convoy of Eleka fired to the air to disperse the hoodlums who wanted to attack the deputy governor

Owolabi is now receiving medical treatment in an undisclosed hospital in the state.

But the APC senatorial candidate for Ekiti South ,Senator Tony Adeniyi, blamed Eleka, noting that   Owolabi was shot amid a hot argument between the deputy governor’s  supporters and some PDP members who accused him of flouting the restriction order on vehicular movement.

Debunking the allegation, the deputy governor told journalists that the victim and others had planned a mob attack on his convoy and his security had to shoot into the air for him to escape.

Also,the House of   All Progressive Congress (APC)candidate for the House of Representatives,Hon Oyetunde Ojo, and four others were attacked by hoodlums at Erinjinyan Ekiti.

However,in most of the polling units,voters had problem with the card readers,but were given Incident Forms for accreditation.

The elections were hailed by   Governor Ayodele Fayose who described the conduct in the state as very peaceful, describing the turnout   of voters as very impressive .

Also speaking, former Governors Kayode Fayemi   and Segun Oni; a House of Representatives member, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele; as well as an APC leader, Mr Segun Osinkolu, condemned  the attack on the  member of the party in Ikere Ekiti, saying   it confirmed the desperation of the PDP.

 

 

Delta: Man with 2 PVCs held

In Delta State, the polls were  peaceful  except  in some  areas where pockets of crisis were recorded.

There was a  drama at  Ibada-Elume community  of Sapele Local Government Area  as military operatives on the Warri/Sapele high way arrested one Daniel Akpoduado with two PVCs.

In Oshimili South, Oshimili North, Aniocha South and Aniocha North, the polls were generally peaceful.

There were  no complaints of malfunctioning of  SCRs  at the time of  this report.

The  APC gubernatorial candidate in the  state, Olorogun O’Tega Emerhor, said: “This is an innovation; before now, there was concern that the card reader will not work, but in this locality, it worked well. The accreditation is going on smoothly. I have done my own accreditation. I tried it, it failed  twice but it was discovered that it was because my finger was wet, at  the third time it worked”.

At Orogun, Ughelli North Local Government Area, the Delta Central Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege, said: “In my own wards; the two Orogun wards, there is no problem, everything is going on fine. But the reports we are hearing outside is not encouraging at all especially in Ughelli South.

“I hope it would be addressed as soon as possible. Peoples patient should not be overstretched. I here right now even in Okwagbe, the materials with the result sheets has not been released. That is what is also going on in Igun in Ethiope East. The most annoying, is the chairman of Ehiope West council using the police to chase away our agents from polling units. We have made a report to police and we hope they will address it as soon as possible otherwise we will be forced to react”.

AT 11am in Units 1, 2 of Warri GRA Ward,  it took the first voter who stepped up for accreditation to get through the process. Late arrival of materials and failure of the card readers characterized the exercise in Isoko North and South Local Government Areas.

As at 7.45 am, there was the challenge of vehicles to transport the electoral materials to the various wards in the council areas, while distribution of ballot materials to the various polling units commenced at about 10 am.

Speaking on the late arrival of electoral materials in many areas of Delta, a chieftain of the APC in the state, Senator Spanner Okpozo, noted: “If there if any delay in the exercise, it is a problem of INEC. It shows that INEC did not prepare adequately for the election, though there is sincerity on their part. In the interest of those who have not been accredited, there should be room to accommodate everybody”.

 

Benue: Peaceful polls, problematic Card Readers

In Benue State, the general elections, which were  peacefully conducted, were marred by large scale failure of the SCR.

When  Sunday Vanguard visited some polling units in Makurdi, Guma, Gwer, Gwer West, Otukpo, Ogbadibo and Okpokwu local government areas of  the state, it was discovered that voters who turned out in large numbers at the various polling unit had to contend with malfunctioning SCR.

Commenting on the development shortly after casting his vote at about 1:37pm, Senate President David Mark, who commended the peaceful conduct of the exercise in his constituency, however, raised concern over the SCRs  failure.

“This election is certainly peaceful like we never had it before but the issue of  malfunctioning card readers gives one cause for worry. INEC has to address that issue quickly.”

Mark who urged the people of the constituency to be patient with INEC urged the electoral body to quickly address the anomaly.

On his part,. the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, noted that the elections would have been the best organised  in the country but for the challenge posed by the SCRs  in most polling units in his constituency.

 


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