The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja, has expressed concerns over the malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the late arrival of election officials at polling units during the Anambra gubernatorial election on Saturday.
In a statement released on Saturday, the centre said the resort to manual accreditation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would likely generate uncertainties about the validity of votes cast.
“In several instances, the BVAS failed to recognise voters’ faces and fingerprints, and those affected were asked to wait until the challenge was resolved,” the statement read in part.
“The lateness of officials in commencing accreditation and polling has left many voters frustrated, necessitating INEC’s extension of the voting period to 4 pm and possibly tomorrow (Sunday). This will likely contribute to the late closing of the polls and the delayed announcement of the election results.”
The centre, while condemning technology and mobilization glitches, welcomed the endorsement of key democratic electoral principles by election officials, security guards and voters.
It stated that despite concerns over the heavy deployment of security agents, very few incidents of intimidation and violence were recorded.
“Where security agents have been present, reports indicate that they have largely respected the rules of engagement and acted with professionalism. This is highly commendable and we hope that this mode of engagement with voters is sustained till the end of the electoral process,” CDD stated.
The lack of adequate training of the polling officers, who were mostly youth corps members, and incidents of electoral malpractice, including vote-buying, which could possibly impact the credibility of results, were also raised in the statement.
CDD enjoined security agencies to continue to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement and to secure voters as well as INEC staff and infrastructure.
It also implored INEC and its officials to ensure the diligent counting of votes, and to properly train its officials in the use of its BVAS devices in subsequent elections.
CDD urged voters and civil society groups to be vigilant during the collation of results.
“We implore voters to remain calm and, where possible, monitor the outcome of the polls up to the announcement of the results,” the organisation stated.
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