decries lapses in electoral process

By Gabriel Ewepu

AS the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Saturday, conducted the long awaited Anambra Governorship election, an election observer, Yiaga Africa, commended voters over their enthusiasm and resilience by coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise despite security concerns.

This was part of Yiaga Africa’s ‘Situational Statement on 2021 Anambra Gubernatorial Election’ signed by Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, and Board Member, Yiaga Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu.

The statement reads in part, “Yiaga Africa commends the people of Anambra for the enthusiasm and resilience demonstrated with the turnout for the elections. INEC owes the people of Anambra a duty to take necessary steps to ensure registered voters are not disenfranchised on the basis of technological failures or logistics challenges.

“Yiaga Africa urges INEC to provide periodic updates on the status of elections in polling units where the BVAS consistently malfunctioned or where elections did not hold.

“Yiaga Africa lauds the professionalism exhibited by security agencies since the commencement of polls. Yiaga Africa reiterates its call to security agencies to respect human rights and maintain non-partisan dispositions throughout the results collation process.

“Yiaga Africa further calls on the security agencies to investigate reports of hijack of election materials and prosecute the culprits.”

However, according to the statement the commencement of polls, availability of election materials and critical incidents may impact the quality of the election as verified reports received from 229 of 248 sampled polling units as at 4pm on Election Day of November 6, which in addition, 66 critical incident reports were received and processed as at 4:00pm. “These incidents could potentially undermine the integrity of the election if unaddressed.”  

According to the statement preliminary findings indicated delayed opening of polling units: Yiaga Africa WTV observed the late arrival of polling officials and materials at polling units across the State. By 7:30 am, polling officials were present in only 17% of polling units. The delays were occasioned by poor logistics management. Yiaga Africa anticipated these challenges based on our pre-election observation; Late start of Polls:  As expected, the late arrival of polling officials delayed the commencement of accreditation and voting across several polling units. Reports from the WTV observes revealed that by 9:30 am only 28% of polling units commenced accreditation and voting; Deployment of Polling Officials: Yiaga Africa WTV observed that an average of 2 polling officials were deployed in those polling units where INEC officials and materials arrived. This is lower than the required number of four polling officials per polling unit. At least one female polling official was present in the polling units.

Deployment and non-functionality of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS): Yiaga Africa WTV observed the deployment of the BVAS to the polling units. However, Yiaga Africa received reports of the BVAS failure to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and photos even where voter details were confirmed on the voter register; Critical Incidents: Non-opening of Polling Units by 12 noon: Based on verified reports from Yiaga Africa observers, 19% of polling units failed to open by 12noon. In other words, INEC officials didn’t deploy to those polling units. These incidents are mostly concentrated in Anambra South Senatorial District (23.5%), Anambra Central (17%), and Anambra North Senatorial districts (13%). Yiaga Africa is concerned that the non-opening of these polling stations disenfranchises registered voters in those polling units.

The statement concluded that, “Yiaga Africa restates her commitment to sharing accurate data and information on the conduct of the election and results based on its deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology.

“If INEC’s official results fall within Yiaga Africa’s estimated rate, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at the polling units; however, if the announced results have been manipulated and do not match the polling units’ results, Yiaga Africa will expose it.”

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