Anambra poll: CDD expresses concern over increasing failure of accreditation machines, low voters turnout

Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has expressed worry over the widely reported failure of Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) across numerous polling units by its team of observers in the Saturday Anambra governorship election.

CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, raised the concern while briefing journalists on the preliminary statement on the conduct of the poll at their office’s Election Analysis Centre (EACH) in Abuja.

She said the repeated malfunctioning of the accreditation machines threatened to mar the quality of the election outcome.

“In several instances, the BVAS failed to recognise voters’ faces and fingerprints, and those affected were asked to wait until the challenge was resolved.

“CDD’s EAC observers also reported malfunctioning of the BVAS in Ayamelum LGA with three polling units affected.

She noted that the wider security atmosphere leading up to the polls had likely impacted INEC’s preparedness, particularly its capacity to train Ad-Hoc staff on the use of the BIVAS technology.

“In some polling units, INEC officials resorted to the manual methods of accreditation and voting.

“This was observed in Awka South, Akwa North, Idemili North, Idemili South, and Anambra West.

“CDD observers further reported that in cases where the BIVAS worked, its pace was frequently slow, leading to longer wait times than necessary for voters,” the director said.

According to her, in several reported cases, frustrated voters were forced to return home without casting their votes.

“The resort to manual voting will likely generate uncertainties about the validity of votes cast.

“This will likely also open up the election to petitions and questions regarding its legitimacy,” she added.

Hassan also expressed concern over the law turnout of voters during the election.

“As expected, CDD observers recorded a low turnout of voters across the state,” she said.

She said the development reflected the climate of uncertainty leading up to the election, as well as the historically high levels of voter apathy that had been recorded in the state.

She stated that apprehension about likely security breach during the poll worsened voter apathy syndrome.

“We note that the worrying security context ahead of the polls sustained a heightened level of uncertainty among many voters, and exacerbated voter-apathy,” she said.

Hassan said the observer group also noted widespread incidents of vote buying that would likely negatively impact the credibility of the election result.

“CDD observers reported numerous not-so-discreet cases of ‘see-and-buy’ in polling units across the 21 LGAs of the state.

“In many reported cases, police officers have been alleged to have looked the other way, likely as a result of having themselves been compromised.

“This practice, which appears to cut across party lines, has been an increasing feature of Nigerian elections and requires more concerted remedial efforts by INEC and other critical stakeholders,” she said.

She said though there were fears over security challenge facing the state, the election was largely peaceful.

The director, however, commended security agencies for the high level of professionalism displayed.

“Although there have been pockets of reports indicating the absence or low presence of security officials, there have been no widespread reports of misconduct by security officials deployed for the elections.

“This is a noteworthy development considering that the expectation of intimidation and abuse from state security officials was a source of heightened concern ahead of the elections.

“We commend security agencies for the high level of professionalism they have so far shown, and once again urge them to sustain this humane approach to election security through the voting, collation, and announcement of results,” she said.

Hassan therefore called on security agencies to continue to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement and to secure voters as well as INEC staff and infrastructure.

“We call on civic and pro-democracy groups to remain vigilant, especially during the collation and announcement of voting results.

“We urge INEC and its officials to ensure the diligent accounting of votes, especially since voting collation will likely stretch into the night,” she said.

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