ABUJA– The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on Saturday, commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over its early deployment of materials for the conduct of Governorship and State Assembly elections across the federation.
However, the legal body, in its interim statement on the elections, decried that there was low turnout of voters in most polling units that its 210 election observers visited.
NBA president, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, who addressed newsmen at the association’s Election Situation Room, in Abuja, said reports from the observers showed that INEC officials and electoral materials arrived in most polling units on time with accreditation and voting commencing around 8:30am.
He however noted that voting was delayed till around 11am in some polling units in Rivers State owing to late arrival of election materials.
“Generally, there was a significant improvement compared to what happened during the Presidential and National Assembly elections that held on February 25.
“What we also observed was low turnout of voters across the federation. From some INEC officials we spoke to, the general conclusion was that this time around recorded low turnout compared to the previous elections”.
Besides, NBA, which is the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country, said it got reports of incidents of violence and snatching of ballot boxes in some areas in Lagos State.
“We also observed that there was vote buying. Though the political parties were a bit circumspect, but you could see that some of the electorates were expecting that they would be approached for the purpose of buying their own vote.
“Conduct of the elections were orderly in most polling units visited and the BVAS functioned well. We however observed that in some polling units, there was total absence of security officials.
“On the whole, there was improvement in the management of deployment of polling materials by INEC.
“Votes were being counted as early as 4pm in some polling units, unlike the previous elections”, the NBA added.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, while commending INEC for improving on what obtained during the previous elections, said it however did not observe deployment of assistive materials for People with Disability (PWDs).
The Situation Room, which is a coalition of over 70 CSOs, said it deployed a total of 2,340 election observers across the federation.
“Situation Room observed early deployment of election officials and materials across the country with many States deploying election officials and materials to the RACs on time.
“Our network of observers reported that election officials arrived at about 8:30am in 80 percent of polling units visited while accreditation of voters began at 8:30am in about 67 percent of polling units observed.
“In about 4 per cent of polling units visited, Situation Room observed cases of BVAS malfunctioning.
Incidents observed include BVAS failing to start and battery failure.
The Situation Room observed vote buying in 8 percent of polling units visited. In some the polling units, party agents were asking voters to show who they voted for.
“There are also reports of voter inducement through sharing of money and food items as well as collection of bank account details of voters.
“A quick review of INEC’s Results Viewing Portal (IREV) at 12:00noon revealed two uploads for PU 068, Ojugbe Town Hall, Abuloma-Amadi Ama Ward, and PU 029, Ward 07, both in Port Harcourt Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The first is a photograph of a person and the second, an uncompleted result sheet. Situation Room is concerned that this incident is a breach of the election procedure”, the Situation Room stated in its interim report on the elections.