Election Update: Good Turnout, Less Vote Buying, Generally Peaceful

Election Update: Good Turnout, Less Vote Buying, Generally Peaceful

Nigerians trooped out in large numbers to elect their new leaders – a President, 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives – in an election that started to a slow start in several polling units but has been largely orderly and peaceful. Voters from across the country turned out in reasonable numbers

Nigerians trooped out in large numbers to elect their new leaders – a President, 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives – in an election that started to a slow start in several polling units but has been largely orderly and peaceful.

Voters from across the country turned out in reasonable numbers and were promptly attended to in units that opened early. Some of the polling units visited in Abuja like 142, 143 and 144 along Gana Street in Maitama area of Abuja, the elections commenced early. In so many polling units in Osun state, the polling units started early and voting also commenced early.

However, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation machine did not function optimally in some polling units while it took some time before completing the accreditation process. In Rivers state the BVAS couldn’t capture Governor Nyesom Wike and after spending sometime at the polling unit, he was advised to go home and return later. At some other polling units, persons that had difficulty with the BVAS were asked to step aside and not create unnecessary delay for others on the queue. In many other centers the Polling Officers used the BVAS for facial capturing and not the finger prints because the former is faster to use. One INEC officials Churchill Ebube in Abuja said there had been no problem with BVAS.

The INEC Chairman in a media briefing admitted that there were issues that made some polling units to open late but gave assurances that nobody will be disenfranchised because of this. Distribution of materials started a little late in some places but it was not widespread. He assured that “any voter that is on the queue before 2:30 pm will be allowed to vote”

Speaking on complaints from some Political parties about the shortage of tags for agents , he said that the Commission did what it could regarding tags for party agents, putting the blame squarely on the parties, reaffirming, however, that only accredited party agents by INEC would be allowed to go into the collation centres

The incident of vote buying took a nosedive in several places but it only tasked the ingenuity of the politician. In some centers after cajoling the voters to vote for their candidate they went ahead to write down their names with the party agents with a promise that cash would be made available later. At some centers, a political party printed tickets like vouchers and gave to their prospective voters with a promise that the tickets would be exchanged for cash later when the cash squeeze eases.

Many voters were excited to exercise their franchise, Hafsat Allah Kayi, an indigene of Nassarawa State resident in Abuja said she was happy that it took her few minutes to vote for her candidate. A potential voter who could not immediately locate his polling unit was seen making a call to INEC officials who offered assistance.

Some voters who were re-distributed to new polling units to decongest heavily populated polling units had difficulty locating their new units despite the centers being within the vicinity of their old polling units. INEC Chairman explained the rationale for the redistribution. According to him, about 6.7 million voters were affected in the exercise and that quite a lot of them were able to locate their centers. He said the delineation was done in 2021, whereby the Commission had to split polling units that were densely populated. He said after the exercise, the entre list was published and INEC embarked on campaigns urging voters to check their new polling units.

In all the places visited, there was adequate security at the polling units. The policemen at the polling units sat far away from the polling units but taking keen interest in the ongoing voting process. Patrol vehicles of policemen could be seen going round the polling units at ward 7, in Ilesa West local government. At some units in Abuja NDR observe the presence of policemen and officers of Federal Road Safety Corps. ASP Mohammed Akilu told NDR that there was no problem whatsoever at the polling units adding also that journalists were welcome to observe and conduct interviews.
At his first briefing, the INEC boss admitted to some security challenges in Abia, Imo and Borno states. He said security forces have been contacted and would be mobilized to ensure that voting takes place in the affected local governments.

In the case of Borno state, the INEC Chairman said some hoodlums were firing from the hills and mountain tops in Gworza local government and that the matter is being looked into.

Reports from Lagos indicate that there were attempts to prevent some registered voters to exercise their franchise. In some instances some voters alleged that they were being harassed and intimidated to vote for the candidate of the candidate of a particular political party.

To ensure compliance with the no movement law, security personnel set up barricades across some sensitive parts of Lagos. Also, members of the Nigeria Police Force, Civil Defence Corps, and National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency are also on standby to perform their security duty.

INEC Materials Arrive Late at Polling units in Ikeja

Going around polling units in Ikeja in Lagos State, it was discovered that the Independent National Electoral Commission officials were not on sight at 8:30 am as mandated by the INEC guidelines. Voters were seen at different polling units in Ikeja Local government waiting for INEC officials to arrive with the election materials, but the electoral commission did not appear at most polling units until 10:00 am.

Speaking with NDR, Mr Stephen, a party Agent of the Bode Bewaji Polling Unit, decried the lateness of the electoral commission at the polling units. “We don’t know why INEC officials were late to the polling units but we know that it is not supposed to be. We believe it probably happened due to logistics problems.

Also, Mr Oladele, the All Progressives Congress party Agent bemoaned the lateness of INEC officials to the polling units. According to him, INEC’s tardiness has caused some voters to leave the polling units.

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed his confidence to become victorious in the election. He was able to cast his vote at polling unit 085 Ikeja ward 3 Kaffi Street, Lagos state. He said “I moved across 36 states. I worked hard for it. I attended City Hall meetings, and town hall meetings, to meet various interest groups.

“I have attended to their requests. And I have worked harder than any other candidates in this election. “I am very confident I can win this election”, he said.

EFCC Operatives at Tinubu’s Polling Unit

The Operatives of the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) were present at the polling unit of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress. Although they refused to talk to the journalists, their presence suggested that their presence was one of the measures taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission to fight against vote buying during the poll.

Voters Lament Change of Polling Units.

Some voters in the Surulere polling units could not locate their polling units due to the recent changes made by the Independent National Electoral Commission to the polling units of voters across the country. They were also observed to be lamenting over the development.

One of the concerned persons, who identified himself as Alhaji stated that having arrived early at his regular polling unit in Iponri Housing Estate/Eric Moore, Surulere he could not find his name on the voters’ list. “I couldn’t find my name on the voters’ registration, my son who is voting in Ikorodu just called me and just informed me that my name has been found there “, he lamented.

More Situation Report from Abuja
Sensitive electoral materials arrived very late in most polling stations in the Federal Capital Territory.
Emmanuel Porkyoo, a resident of ACO/AMACestate along airport road, Abuja said he arrived at the AMAC 1 polling station, picked number 78 from the list being distributed to prospective voters yet, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission arrived only at 9:46am for a process that ought to have started at 8:30am.

He was lucky as voters at LEA Primary School, Lugbe had to wait till 11:30 before electoral ad hoc officials arrived. The first set of electoral officials arrived at 10:25am to the LEA Primary School marked 009, but the team led by Grace Ukwuchome as presiding officer had to pack the sensitive materials and leave when they discovered they were meant to operate at Unit 098.

At noon, the situation had been normalised as voting had peaked. Ms Mbar Nkechi- Ehima, a domestic observer with Caritas Nigeria /JDPC said although INEC ad hoc officials arrived at the Presidential Villa 022 Polling Unit, accreditation and voting did not start until 30 minutes later. She observed that though the voters were rowdy, yet, it was not alarming . The BVAS, she said functioned well, a fact that was corroborated by Mr. Umaru Victor , the Presiding Officer. “We are not under pressure”, he said, adding that a line was created for the elderly, heavily pregnant women and People with Disability.

Ekpo Effiong Eko, a domestic Observer with Young African Voice for Peace Initiative (YAVPI) noted that voters at the Presidential Villa faced some challenges such as change of their polling units and overcrowding. At the Presidential Villa Polling Unit 021, voters on the list are 1688 while at Polling Unit 022 over 2000 are on the registered register.

Victor Ifeanyi, a 28 year old albino came to the Presidential Villa Polling Unit 021 at 6:51. He did not vote until 11:48. His words: ” INEC officials came around 9:00am, i asked them whether i can vote immediately because of the sun ,but i was told to go to the queue till it was my turn. Fortunately, the queue moved very fast and I didn’t have to stay in the sun for a very long time”. Ifeanyi said he did not have difficulty in voting for his candidate and party even though a magnifying glass was not provided for him.

Kenneth Ogochukwu, the Presiding Officer at Lagos Street by Drumsticks Polling Unit confirmed that they were not issued with magnifying glasses but said should there be need for it, the glasses are a phone call away.

Security agents mounted barricades on some major streets of the Abuja City Center such as Ahmadu Bello way along Apo legislative quarters, Sheu Shagari Way and Independence Avenue,Umaru Dikko – Ahmadu Bello Way and all the roads leading to the International Conference Center.

Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,( EFCC) was seen monitoring the electoral process at the Presidential Villa Pollind Units at 11:38am. His officials were seen at ACO/AMAC estate around 7:30am in a Toyota bus marked KWL228AY.

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