The Electoral Working Group, EWG, of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to work towards the use of Electronic Voting Machines, EVM, in the conduct of future elections.
The group, however, commended the Commission for the smooth conduct of the August 9 governorship election in Osun State, which it adjudged free, fair and credible.
This is contained in the EWG Report on the Osun State Governorship Election. The report, released on Sunday in Osogbo, the state capital, was signed by its chairman, Dafe Akpedeye, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.
The incumbent governor, Rauf Aregebsola, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, defeated the candidates of 19 other parties to emerge winner in the election.
The group said since INEC said it had the capacity to use the EVM, it should deploy it in future elections.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission should move towards the use of Electronic Voting Machines for elections, as INEC has indicated that it has the capacity to use such process, which it used to collate results in the collating centers,” EWG said.
“INEC needs to deploy adequate officials in each polling unit for future elections.
Stakeholder, especially political parties, should carry out more effective civic education to increase the electorate’s involvement in future elections.”
The NBA election group also asked the Commission to accelerate the process of constituency delineation to avoid a situation where polling booths were located in unpleasant places.
According to the group, this was inconvenient to the voters and, ultimately the umpires themselves, thereby making accreditation of voters very cumbersome and problematic.
“Some of the Polling Units are located in front of or too close to residential buildings despite the availability of schools and other public places near such dwellings,” it said.
“The location of some of these polling units in front of or very proximate to people’s houses does not make for secrecy of the votes and independent electoral action by the voters. It is important to move such polling stations away from residential accommodation and awkward locations to schools and public places.”
The EWG, however, said in comparison with the last governorship elections in Anambra and Ekiti, INEC had improved in its deployment of electoral materials and officials to polling units.
The group also called for the amendment of the Electoral Act to give Presiding Officers the discretion to create a separate queue for the elderly, stating that during the governorship poll in Osun State, some senior citizens had hectic time coping with younger elements on the queue though they were allowed in some instances to have the first go.
It stressed that some of them could hardly withstand the surging crowds in some of the polling units. “
The EWG said, “This situation was particularly noticed in PU at Salvation Army School, Alekuwodo, Osogbo. The creation of a separate queue for senior citizen will encourage them to remain engaged with the electoral process and continue to perform their civic responsibility.”
The EWG said the turnout for the election was relatively impressive and could be adjudged between 52 to 55 per cent, stressing that it was far from the number of registered voters.
The group said in the report, “The turnout was relatively impressive and can be adjudged to be between 52-55%, however, some of the polling units in Osogbo, Olorunda and Egbedore Councils recorded less than 50% of registered voters.
“In Ward 8 PU 007 in Olorunda while 1,324 registered to vote, only 691 were accredited while 683 of them were around when voting commenced. In Ward 8 PU 3 in the Osefiri Area of Olorunda, there were 700 registered voters, but 359 turned up for accreditation. In Ward 7 PU 5, 300 persons reported for accreditation out of 1007 registered. In Ward 05 PU 002 in Salvation Army School, Alekuwodo, Osogbo LGA, 924 registered to vote, but only 468 were accredited.
“In Unit 9, Ward 3 in Ede-South, 257 registered to vote and 116 were accredited. At AUD School, Iwo in Iwo LGA, 759 registered to vote, and 428 were accredited. In Ogbagba in Olaoluwa LGA, 507 registered to vote with only 205 being accredited. In Unit 001 of Ward 4 in Ogbagba (Agbagba Community School) 559 registered to vote and 337 got accredited. 735 registered in Songbe in Ward 11 of Ejigbo LGA, 444 were accredited to vote.”
The group also said in a few cases, some of the voters faced the problem of not having permanent registration cards and were not allowed to accredit and vote.
It added, “Some voters complained that they were not allowed to vote either because their names were not in the register even though they had the permanent voter card, or were not around when voting commenced.
“Some of INEC ad-hoc staff were strict to the extent that they refused pleas from this category of persons to allow them vote. Similarly, party agents, notably from five parties – PDP, APC, LP, PPA and ADC complained that they were not allowed to vote. However, at Ward 8 PU 7 they were eventually allowed to vote by the INEC officials. In all, voters conducted themselves properly and in an orderly manner during the exercise.”
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