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Anambra Election Was Generally Peaceful But Widespread Vote Buying Prevailed – Situation Room

Soonest Nathaniel  
Updated November 7, 2021
Electoral Officials preparing for the election.

 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room says the gubernatorial election in Anambra State was generally peaceful but had widespread vote buying.

In its report on Sunday regarding the polls, the Situation Room gave some specific instances of vote-buying to include the sale of votes for amounts ranging from N1,000 and N6,000 at various locations.

The organization, however, noted that this was being carried out very discreetly in some polling units while in others, the vote buying was done in full glare without prevention from the security personnel.

Nevertheless, the Situation Room disclosed that voters in a particular polling unit in the state rejected an inducement of N5,000 per vote. The agency commended the courage of those voters.

Speaking further,  the organization noted that INEC ad-hoc staff and election materials arrived late in many polling units visited by field observers.

Also observed was a widespread malfunction of the Bimodal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) as it failed to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and detect faces.

“This was the case in 59% of the PUs observed, with a minimum of five minutes to accredit one voter in 65.8% of the PUs observed.

“Furthermore, some of the ad-hoc staff experienced some difficulty in operating the machines. In some locations, the machines were working rather slowly and took as long as 10 minutes or more to accredit a single voter,” the agency stated.

While there were some ills, the election in Anambra had its positive moments.

The Situation Room reports that the voter turnout was good, contrary to earlier apprehensions. Also, INEC ad hoc officials in some instances gave priority to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), elderly persons and pregnant women in most of the polling units observed. However, some of the polling units were not accessible to some categories of people with special needs.

The organization, while urging the Anambra people to remain peaceful as the election runs its course, called on INEC to ensure the peaceful and transparent conclusion of the polls.

Security agencies were also obliged to continue to maintain law and order through the remaining phases of this exercise.

Below is the full statement put out by the conveners of the Situation Room

“NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM INTERIM STATEMENT ON ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION 2021Issued: In Awka at 9:30am, Sunday, 7th November 2021
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) observed the Anambra State Governorship election and will continue to closely follow the process as it unfolds until its conclusion by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Situation Room deployed observers across 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
At this time, we wish to make the following observations:
General: The election was generally peaceful. This was against the background of potential violence rhetoric leading up to the election, even though there were pockets of disturbances.
Logistics and Commencement of Poll:INEC ad hoc staff and election materials arrived late in 67% of the polling units (PU) visited by Situation Room field observers. Polls commenced between 10:00am and 12:30pm in 53.5% of the voting locations observed.
This was as a result of the late arrival of officials and materials. These delays in the commencement of polls were observed in locations such as PU 001 and 008 in Amansea ward of Awka North LGA, PU 017 and 018 in Uga I ward of Aguata LGA and several others. In some other places, particularly voting locations in parts of Ihiala, Idemili North and Idemili South LGAs, no INEC staff or material was deployed.
Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS):
Although the BVAS had been used in Isoko South constituency 1 bye elections, this would be the first major election where INEC deployed the BVAS.
Reports from field observers indicated widespread malfunction of this technology, as it failed to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and detect faces. This was the case in 59% of the PUs observed, with a minimum of five minutes to accredit one voter in 65.8% of the PUs observed. Furthermore, some of the ad-hoc staff experienced some difficulty in operating the machines. In some locations, the machines were working rather slowly and took as long as 10 minutes or more to accredit a single voter.
This severely stalled the accreditation and voting process. These challenges were observed in the following locations: PU 007 in Awka-Etiti II ward in Idemili South LGA, PU 013 in Nawfia II ward of Njikoka LGA, PU 017 in Uruagu I ward of Nnewi North LGA, amongst others.
Priority Voting:
Situation Room notes that INEC ad hoc officials in some instances, gave priority to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), elderly persons and pregnant women in most of the polling units observed. However, some of the PUs were not accessible to some categories of PWDs.
Presence, Conduct and Welfare of Security Officials: At this time, Situation Room notes that security officials were present at most of the polling units visited. The security agents were relatively civil in their conduct within and outside polling units. However, some of the security personnel stated that they had not received their allowances for election duty. This is contrary to the pronouncement by the Police authorities, that security agents on election duty had been remunerated.
Party Agents: Of the 18 political parties on the ballot, the All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) had agents in at least 75% of the polling units visited while the remaining political parties respectively had agents in less than 25% of these locations.
Vote Buying:
Situation Room received reports of widespread vote buying by political party agents across the State. Some of the specific instances include sale of votes for amounts ranging from N1,000 and N6,000 at various locations. However, this was being carried out very discreetly in some PUs while in others the votes buying was done in full glare without prevention from the security personnel. Nevertheless, voters in a particular polling unit in the state rejected an inducement of N5,000 per vote. Situation Room commends the courage of these voters. For this, we say a big well done to Ndi Anambra.
Voter Turnout:
On a general note, citizens came out to vote, contrary to the initial apprehension that trailed the beginning of the electioneering process. Even though there were not large crowds of voters, it was still a relief to see citizens come out eventually to exercise their rights. Also, the Situation Room commends the Media for following the process courageously despite the tensed political environment.
Conclusion: We call on the resilient people of Anambra to remain calm and law abiding as the election runs its course. We call on INEC to ensure the peaceful and transparent conclusion of this election. Situation Room also calls on security agencies to continue to maintain law and order through the remaining phases of this exercise.
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SIGNED:
Ene Obi
Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
Asma’u Joda
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation RoomJames Ugochukwu
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room”