| By Anayo Ezugwu |
THE 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria held on March 28 was marred by late arrival of election materials and failure of card readers to capture finger prints of voters. But irrespective of the challenges and technical hitches, Nigerians came out en mass to elect their leaders. Expectedly, vehicular movements were restricted across the country, as even unauthorised security personnel were turned back at the checkpoints. Below is the situation reports on what occurred in different states.
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Anambra State has been declared winners in Anambra north and central senatorial district. Uche Ekwunife of the PDP won the Anambra Central Senatorial seat, while Stella Oduah win Anambra North seat. But the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to cancel elections in areas where election result sheets were not provided during the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
Okelo Madukaife, publicity secretary of the party in the state, who made the call in a statement, listed Ogidi Ward 1, Oba Ward 1, parts of Dunukofia and Awka South council areas, among others, as areas where result sheets were not provided. He said the election conducted in the affected areas were void by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Specifically, we call on INEC to cancel the election held in Ogbaru Local Government Area, which is also a federal constituency and hold a proper election there. Result sheets were not provided as at the time of voting in most polling units in the area. We also call on INEC to cancel the election in certain areas of the state where the card readers did not work. We insist that all areas of the state in which materials were delivered after 12 noon, should be cancelled, as the integrity of the process had been tampered with,” he said.
The APC expressed concern over the failure of the card readers in some areas of the state. It said proper use of the card readers would have added credibility to the entire electoral process. The APC said it wondered why the card readers that recorded 80 percent during the pre-election on March 7, in Igbo Ukwu Ward 1, could fail to work in the election proper.
It, therefore, called for proper independent investigation into the massive failures of the reader cards in the affected areas. The statement, however, reaffirmed the confidence of the party in the use of card readers for accreditation and expressed the belief that it still could work effectively with proper monitoring and management.
DESPITE bomb explosion in Enugu State, the people of the state came out en mass to vote for their candidate of choice. The PDP won all the National Assembly seats in the state and the presidential election. Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, was re-elected as a senator for the fourth time. Chuka Utazi, formal commissioner for transport in the state was elected to represent Enugu north, while Gil Nnaji, serving senator in the state wins in Enugu west.
Ben Nwoye, chairman of APC in the state, accused the State Resident Electoral Commissioner of conniving with the PDP and security agents to rig the election in favour of the PDP. Nwoye, who is the senatorial candidate of the APC in Enugu East senatorial zone, alleged that the Enugu REC handed the election materials and result sheets to the PDP candidates in all the senatorial zones in the state.
The APC chairman, who had before the election, called for the removal of the Enugu REC following his allegation that he was captain of electoral fraud, insisted that the result of the Enugu presidential election was fraudulent. “You will recall that when REC was redeployed from Anambra to Enugu, I raised alarm because of his bad record in the Anambra election, which was adjudged the worst poll in the history of Nigeria. It was due to the REC’s alleged electoral fraud that caused the APC the governorship position during the last governorship election in Anambra State. PDP stakeholders specifically requested for him because he is an expert in rigging and today, he has done that which he knows how best to do,” he said.
Nwoye alleged that violence sponsored by the PDP marred the election at St. Ann and Amachalla polling units in Amuri, Nkanu West Local Government of the state. He said that despite their complaints, the Enugu REC denied their agents tags, adding that it was after pressure and protest that he gave some photocopied tags to the APC.
THE election crisis in the Rivers State has led to the APC supporters in the state to barricade the gate of the INEC demanding outright cancellation and rescheduling of the presidential and National Assembly elections. The APC protesters led by Dakuku Peterside, the party’s governorship candidate, and Senator Magnus Abe, claimed that the elections held in the state were characterised by deliberate non-release of result sheets to nearly all the centres as well as active collaboration and collusion of INEC ad-hoc staff with the PDP in undermining the credibility of the election.
The party also said that incidents were deliberately orchestrated to scare away voters and the deployment and alleged use of police to arrest its key and notable faithful even during the election with the sole aim of infusing fear and intimidation, all in a bid to pave way for the PDP to operate within the political space unchallenged.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Chapter of the PDP has kicked against demand by the APC for the cancellation of the election, saying the conduct was credible and the result reflects the overwhelming acceptability of President Goodluck Jonathan and candidates of the party by the electorate in the state. Felix Obuah, state chairman of the PDP, who made the assertion in a statement in Port Harcourt, said: “Rivers State is a traditional PDP state and even if the elections are conducted million times, the PDP will win here. Was the APC expecting Rivers people to vote for another presidential candidate other than President Goodluck Jonathan? That must be a wishful thinking.”
He, therefore, condemned in strong terms the alleged resort to violence and falsehood by members of the APC and vehemently denied allegations of violence levelled against members of the PDP.
IN Edo state there were reports that accredited Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officials were restricted and stopped by some soldiers from conducting their lawful duties in some parts of Edo North. Governor Adams Oshiomhole said the report is shocking as electoral officials should not be restricted on their own day. The governor, who noted that the soldiers must have got an illegal order from their commander, said, “I addressed the press on Friday and I did say that Brigadier Odidi has chosen to frustrate this exercise in Edo North. Ironically, Brigadier Odidi is from Agenebode and he is the one who is giving this unlawful order.”
Even journalists were not spared the soldiers’ ordeal as the INEC accreditation cards and reflective jackets were ignored while each reporter was asked to produce their company ID cards. The soldiers said the reporters were not permitted to monitor the exercise from one unit to another as they were only allowed to monitor a particular unit.
The presidential/National Assembly election in Edo State was peaceful except for initial challenges of failure of the card reader to function. Reacting to this development, Mike Igini, INEC REC in the state, said a support group was going round to activate the affected card readers with a view to making them functional.
IN Adamawa State Governor Bala James Ngilari of the state was among those who expressed dismay over the use of card readers which he believed disenfranchised many people. The governor made the allegations shortly after the card reader machine rejected his thumb when he was undergoing accreditation at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, MAUTECH, Yola where polling units for IDPs from Madagali local government area of the state was designated .
Governor Nggilari noted he was disappointed in the process of the election because of the use of these card readers which are responsible in slowing the election process. Also speaking, Bamanga Tukur, former national chairman of the PDP urged contestants and politicians across the nation to take the outcome of the presidential and the National Assembly polls in good faith.
Tukur disclosed this at his residence in Yola, shortly after casting his vote at Ajiya polling unit and saying that the elections should not be seen as a do-or-die affair. He also lamented that the failure of the party to allow the interest of the common man to prevail in the scheme of things led to the recent disenchantment the party is facing. He, however, commended the INEC for introducing card readers to checkmate any electoral fraud, adding that in modern world the place of ICT is not contestable. A massive turnout of voters was recorded at the various polling units. Several prospective voters trekked long distances to their various polling units following the ban on vehicular movement.
PRESIDENTIAL and National Assembly elections in Niger State were marred by missing data from the state INEC. Voters’ turnout was impressive in Minna, the state capital while the other cities, Bida, Suleja, Lapai, Mokwa and Kontagora, recorded early and massive turn out of voters. Electoral officers were seen at their duty posts but there were pockets of malfunctioning card readers in some units in Minna, Suleja, New Wuse and Bida. Babangida Aliyu, governor of the state has lost his bid to go to the senate. David Umaru of the APC defeated him in the Niger East senatorial zone.
THE election also recorded technical hitches in the voters’ accreditation exercise in Ebonyi State. The card readers could not authenticate verified voters. This was despite the fact that the accreditation, which started by 8 am, was generally peaceful. A malfunctioning of the card reader was reported at Nwakpu Market Square One polling unit.
On the other hand, Kelechi Igwe, PDP’s deputy governorship candidate in the state, who was accredited by 9:49 am, noted that the exercise was smooth in his booth. Commending INEC for a smooth conduct of the election, he urged the electoral body to improve the efficiency of the card readers.
IN Ondo State, the atmosphere was peaceful in most places during the accreditation and voting process although the turnout was generally low in many places. The number of security personnel spotted at the centres was fewer when compared to the past elections in the state. However, the no-movement order was strictly enforced by security men, particularly soldiers who screened passing vehicles to ensure that only accredited people were given access. Voting commenced in places where accreditation were completed by 1 pm while voting was delayed in polling units due to malfunctioning card readers.
IN Abia State faulty card readers caused delays in the accreditation of voters in many polling units across the state. The hitches also dampened the enthusiasm of voters, who openly expressed their frustrations with the machines. At the Umuwaya Primary School, Umuahia Urban Ward 2, accreditation did not start on time in any of the five polling units as the electoral officials arrived one hour behind schedule only to start battling with faulty card readers Though some of the card readers eventually started working the one for polling unit 002 could not function forcing the presiding officer to go back to INEC office to get a replacement. Similar problems were reported at Ohafia, Isiala Ngwa South local government areas.
Governor Theodore Orji described the delays caused by faulty card readers as worrisome. Speaking with journalists after completing his accreditation at Urban Ward 1 located at Ugba Primary School, Orji wondered if INEC did make provisions to make up for the delays caused by the card readers. “It would be unfair to disenfranchise any voter due to faulty system,” he said.
Governor Orji and Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of the state, was elected as senators representing Abia central and north senatorial districts.
THERE was postponement of voting at Ethiope federal constituency (Ethiope East and Ethiope West) over inadequate supply of voting materials. Distribution of INEC voting materials ended at Warri office at 8.20am. The conduct of the people was generally peaceful, but there were few people on the streets. Security was provided generally by the police in Delta South; with military personnel placed at checkpoints only. The card readers worked well in many places but there were slight hitches due to apparent inexperience of operators of the machines.
THE inability of the card readers to function properly marred voting in Nasarawa State.
However, the turnout of voters was very encouraging as voters came out en masse to exercise their franchise. Even where people were displaced, they somehow manoeuvred their way either on the eve of the election or early hours of the day to cast their votes. But they were highly disappointed with what they experienced at their respective polling units. Card readers also refused to function which frustrated and confused the electorates.
IN Plateau State, voters including Jonah Jang, governor of the state and his wife, Ngo Talatu, where disappointed over the failure of the card readers to authenticate them and many other voters at their Ladura II polling unit in Jos South Local Government area of the state.
Jang and his wife had to fill Incident Form for accreditation.
The governor, who was visibly upset that many people at his polling unit and indeed the state could not be authenticated by the card readers, queried the need for the use of card readers in the first place. He said: “I and my wife could not be authenticated with the card reader in this place. And I don’t know how many people have suffered a similar fate in the state. Besides, so many people are crying that they don’t even have the PVC. That is why we are wondering whether INEC is really prepared for the elections. Presently I don’t know what decision INEC wants to take, but definitely from all indications many people would be disenfranchised in the state.
“I am even told that the card reader could not capture Mr. President. And the question is if the card reader could not capture the Number one citizen of this country and could not capture me as a governor; then I wonder what the card reader is all about and I just sincerely hope this card reader would not mess up this election.
“I think Jega can be advised that he can make a decision on the card reader now.
I have said it that those with TVC have the right to vote because the electoral law said any citizen that has been registered with his name in the register, and has the voter’s card, is eligible to vote. The law didn’t specify whether it is PVC or TVC. So these people with TVC have the right to vote. They had used this card in 2011, in bye elections and LG elections.”
Meanwhile, across the state, late arrival of INEC official and the problems with the card reader machines created initial hitches in the exercise.
THE conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections was held peacefully in Kwara State as thousands of eligible voters across the three senatorial districts of the state came out in large numbers without any molestation and intimidation from any quarters. As early as 8.00 a.m, voters were seen in large numbers trooping out to various polling units in the state to accredit themselves for voting.
Also, the malfunctioning of some of the card readers brought to the state for the election in some polling units across the state hindered the quick accreditation of eligible voters for the elections. The development however prompted many electoral officers in some polling units to resort to manual accreditation of voters so as to beat the deadline of 1.00p.m of the accreditation.
THE presidential and National Assembly elections held across Ogun State also had card readers challenges in some areas of the state. While accreditation exercises commenced as early as 8 am in major areas, the INEC verification card reader failed to work at Ward 14 Units 10a and 10b in Sagamu areas for hours.
Following the challenges, INEC directed the presiding officers in the affected areas to embark on manual verification exercise. Also, in Unit 16 and 17 Ewekoro area of the state witnessed same experience of non-functional card readers.
THE conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State was almost marred by late arrival of election materials to various polling units in the state and poor functioning of the card reader machines. For instance, there was no sign that election would be conducted at Ibeskipo Asutan ward 2, Unit 2 when our correspondent visited the ward at 11.15 am because officials and materials were yet to arrive.
At the primary school in Awa Iman 1 unit 5, accreditation started as early as 8.30 am but the presiding officer said the finger prints of some electorate were rejected by the machine. However, accreditation went on smoothly at the town hall, Awa Iman ward 1 and 2.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, agent for ward 6 in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district, Akwa Ibom State, Charles Udoetuk, was reportedly arrested by the police, a claim denied by the state’s commissioner of police, Gabriel Achong. Governor Godswill Akpabio, won his senatorial bid.
KADUNA State recorded a massive voter turnout of voters for the presidential and National Assembly election. Security personnel were also stationed at strategic locations within the city to ensure law and order. But the exercise was characterised by late arrival of INEC officials and malfunctioning of the card reader.
In several polling stations in Sabon Tasha, Kakuri, Barnawa, Narayi, Zaria Road, Ibadan street, Jos Road, Argungu Road, Yoruba Road, Camp Road and Police college areas within the metropolis reports that in spite of the delay, people were seen waiting patiently and conducting themselves in a peaceful manner. Vice President Namadi Sambo, who arrived the polling unit with his wife, Amina at about 11:20, was accredited at his new polling station, Swimming Pool Road/Police College Gate (011). He described the turnout of voters as impressive.
— Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT