Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria has expressed concern over the disenfranchisement of voters due to the late arrival of both sensitive and non-sensitive materials in some polling units across the county.
According to Caritas Nigeria and The Justice Development Peace Commission (JDPC), INEC ad-hoc and regular staff were not present at their assigned polling units as scheduled.
The Chief Executive Officer of Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr Uchechukwu Obodoechina, while speaking at the 2023 General Election Situation Room Preliminary Report in Abuja, said both officials and materials were mostly not present at least by 8.30 am.
“There are reports signaling sabotage as some state officials made the arrival of materials difficult.
“For instance, in Kogi State (Northcentral), the roads leading to some opposition strongholds in the state were cut off allegedly to help prevent threats to security in the areas.
“In Enugu State (South East), it was alleged that some corps members already trained as ad-hoc officials declined to participate in the process due to threats of attacks and violence at the polling units.
“In fact, in Recreation Club-Opp. Stadium (PU Code:14/04/13/016, Ogui Township Ward/RA) Enugu, and in so many other areas, this move affected the turnout of officials as the PUs were only mounted and set up by 12:42 pm.
“This has made many eligible voters vacate their PUs without voting.
“In Abia North, Abia State, no single INEC official had arrived in almost all the PUs as of 12:05pm.
“This is also the same for Nnewi, Anambra State, and in most parts of Warri, Delta State.
“The same situation was noticed in Okota, Opebi, and in Lagos Island (South West) where many of the PUs had no INEC officials in place to attend to the teeming electorates.
“So far, reports from other parts of South West reflected very gloomy turnouts of ad-hoc staff as there are long queues for accreditation and verification of voters.
“In most of the polling units where the arrival of materials and ad-hoc staff were on time, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System worked fairly with minor hitches recorded so far.
“Voters whose fingerprints were not duly captured were authenticated with the facial recognition feature of the BVAS.
“However, there is, an urgent need to deploy more BVAS machines in some PUs where the queued voters are more than 1, 000 persons waiting to be accredited.
“For example, in PU 022 Durumi 2 Primary School, only one BVAS machine was deployed to more than 3, 000 electorate who had been on line waiting for accreditation since 7:00 am.
“In PU 11, Oku/Borum/Njua Ward, Boki LGA Cross River State, voter accreditation was disrupted by some thugs who forcefully snatched the BVAS machine from the presiding officer.
“According to some of our observers in the PU, this had happened because of the absence of police and other security personnel in the area.
“We recommend that the authorities move in swift response to save the situation as it stands,” he said. (NAN)