Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation says the Bi-modal Voting Accreditation System (BVAS) malfunction in some polling units disrupted Saturday’s Federal Capital Territory’s (FCT) Area Council elections.
Executive Director Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, made the observation in the group’s Situational Statement on the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections.
Itodo called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to carry out a comprehensive audit of the voter register, BVAS technology, elections logistics and distribution of voters to polling unit.
He said that the call was necessary due to the operational deficiencies noted in the election provided a compelling need.
He added that INEC should have extended voting time to 4:30 pm given the late opening of polls and hitches with the Bi-modal Voting Accreditation System (BVAS) machines.
This, he said, was especially in polling units with a high turnout of voters.
He said that INEC officials had also been called upon to act in the utmost sense of integrity, transparency and professionalism in the collation and declaration of election results.
He said that Yiaga Africa deployed trained and accredited roving observers to observe the election under its Watching The Vote (WTV) initiative.
According to him, among the preliminary findings on the election day, included late opening of polling units and late commencement of polls in several polling stations due to logistics issues.
He said that though accreditation commenced at 10.a.m in most of the polling units, the group observed late arrival of security agents, especially in Abuja Municipal Area Council.
Itodo said that apart from malfunctioning, the group also observed unevenly distribution of BVAS machines in some polling units.
He said that Yiaga Africa observers reported disenfranchisement of voters as a result of missing names on the voter register that was deployed to the polling unit.
He said that in the centres where the disenfranchisement occurred, the voters were holders of valid Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) assigned to those polling units.
“For such voters, INEC’s online voter verification portal verified their registration status.”
Itodo said that there was imbalance in the distribution of voters to new polling units and it affected the effective management of polling units with over 1000 registered voters.
“Yiaga Africa noted that the inconsistent communication from security agencies undermines public confidence in the transparency and objectivity of security agencies during elections.”
Itodo, therefore, said that based on the observation, Yiaga Africa called on INEC to up its game.
He said the group called on security agencies to ensure that their personnel act in utmost professionalism and remain impartial throughout the conduct of this election.
Yiaga Africa, he said, called on political parties, candidates and their supporters to refrain from disrupting the process and attempts to undermine the elections.
“Yiaga Africa will be observing the INEC results portal to track the efficiency of the portal,” he said.
Itodo called on all those participating in the process, especially the voters not to be deterred by the challenges but rather remain patient until they cast their votes.
He urged all citizens, political parties and candidates, INEC and the security agencies to play their parts to ensure a peaceful, credible and conclusive process.