Yiaga Africa, a non-profit organisation promoting good governance and democracy, has decried the late arrival of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to many of the polling units across Nigeria.
The organisation said it deployed 3,876 observers to polling units across Nigeria and 774 mobile observers across all local governments of the country for the presidential and federal legislative election held today.
In a press conference held at Transcrop Holton, Abuja, the Executive Director of the think-tank, Samson Idoto, said they had launched a critical election observation team via its “WatchingTheVote” scheme.
Reading out the observations of the group, Huseini Abudu, chairman of the WatchingTheVotes scheme, said Yiaga Africa observers were vigilant enough in thousands of polling units, gathering election voting data across zones.
Mr Abudu noted that the “late arrival of INEC officials and delay commencement of polls” were the first critical thing observed so far across the country.
“Our findings show INEC officials arrived by 7:30 a.m. in only 27 per cent of the polling units,” he said.
He also noted how voters whose polling units were relocated found it difficult to identify their new places of voting.
In some of the polling units observed, polling officers declined to be deployed for the elections, Mr Abudu said.
“In Ngor Okpala LGA in Imo State, YIAGA Africa WTV Observers reported a shortage of ad-hoc staff due to poor remuneration and fear of attacks,” he said.
He also noted that BVAS election tools provided by INEC were not authenticating the facial or fingerprints of voters, citing the Gbagada area of Lagos as an example.
The think-tank, however, recommended an extension of voting hours to allow voters denied due to technical issues to exercise their franchise. It also urged INEC to ensure strict compliance with the electoral law.
Like YIAGA, the Commonwealth observation team had also raised concerns about the late arrival of election officials to polling units.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that INEC had earlier acknowledged the late arrival of its officials to polling units across Nigeria. The commission, however, refused to officially extend the voting time, beyond the 2:30 p.m. earlier approved. However, INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said anyone in the queue by 2:30 a.m. would be allowed to vote, no matter how long it takes.
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