Prof. Charles Soludo, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State; Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, governorship candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); and Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, all protested the widespread irregularities that marred the governorship election across the state.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stated that it was investigating why the accreditation devices – Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) – did not function properly in some polling units.
INEC, which also extended the polling period from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., also reiterated that in cases of sustained BVAS malfunction, accreditation and voting for the affected polling units would continue today or at another time determined by the commission.
The electoral commission also revealed that the collation of results from local government areas will begin today at 10 a.m.
Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Anambra State, briefed journalists at the commission’s headquarters yesterday afternoon, explaining that the extension of time was prompted by several field reports of voters experiencing difficulties with accreditation.
“The commission is currently investigating why the accreditation devices, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), worked flawlessly in some polling units but not others.”
In some cases, it appears that this was caused by software glitches.
To avoid further issues, our technicians have already built an update to the device software.
The update is currently being installed in the affected BVAS, and we ask voters, candidates, and agents to be patient while our technical staff works to resolve the issue.
“The commission wishes to reiterate that in cases of sustained BVAS malfunction, the Presiding Officer must notify voters and polling agents that accreditation and voting for the affected polling units will continue tomorrow or at another time determined by the commission,” he said.
He explained that the commission had transportation issues in some areas.
“It should be noted that, due to security concerns, some of the transporters who were mobilized and paid half of their sign-on fee backed out at the last minute, leaving some of our ad hoc staff stranded.”
In addition, some of the trained ad hoc staff withdrew at the last minute.
The commission is keeping an eye on these issues, and existing regulations and guidelines will be applied case by case.
As a result, we are harvesting areas where voting will realistically no longer take place today, including places where significant disruption has occurred, to allow for a possible resumption of voting at a later time, in accordance with existing laws and the commission’s regulations and guidelines,” Orji said.
In another press conference held last night at the commission’s headquarters in Awka, Orji stated that the commission was pleased with the election’s progress, despite the earlier glitches caused by the BVAS machine.
I’m pleased to inform you that the technical issues we encountered with our BVAS have been largely resolved,” he said.
“The report we received from our field officers and independent observers convinced us that most voters were able to vote with the BVAS, following the extension of the voting period to 4 p.m. and our regulation that any voter on the queue at the time must be allowed to vote.”
Orji reiterated that the election would be held today in any polling unit where the BVAS was consistently malfunctioning and voters were unable to vote.
“We have yet to receive reports of any location where the BVAS’s persistent malfunction resulted in no election at all.”
Nonetheless, we will continue to receive reports through our usual channels, particularly from the compilation of the Form EC40G, which is the official document for recording polling units where elections did not take place or were canceled,” Orji said.
“The election is by no means over; we have now entered a critical stage of the process, namely result collation,” he added.
“Adequate arrangements have been made for the collation of results at the registration area, local government areas, and the state level.”
“I’m pleased to announce that state collation will begin tomorrow (today) at the state collation center. Results for polling units have already been uploaded in our IRev portal and registration area, and registration area collation has been progressing well.”
I invite all those who have the right to be present to come and witness it.”
Despite the initial threat of violence by separatist groups, the governorship election was held peacefully across the 21 local government areas.
In an isolated incident, hoodlums allegedly stole ballot boxes from two polling places in Fegge, Onitsha: the Immaculate Heart Catholic Church and the St. Faith Catholic Church.
In an unmarked L300 bus, the assailants, numbering around six, stormed the St Faith Catholic Church near Mbonu Ejike/Basden Junction.
They shot indiscriminately in order to frighten voters and security personnel.
Another group of gunmen stormed the polling station at the Immaculate Heart Church on Zik’s Avenue in Onitsha, stealing a ballot box.
Following the outbreak of violence in various polling units in the area, the electoral commission also suspended the governorship election in the state’s Ihiala LGA.
INEC officials reported being assaulted by hoodlums in various communities throughout the LGA.
Hoodlums reportedly disrupted the election, claiming they were enforcing the sit-at-home order previously imposed by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), despite the fact that IPOB had suspended the sit-at-home directive prior to the election.
According to the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, the widely reported failure of BVAS has rigged out more than 70% of the courageous voters who came out to be electronically captured to vote.
The group’s statement, signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi and Chidinma Udegbunam, read in part, “We have gathered from many, if not most, of the polling booths in the state and across the state’s three senatorial districts, 326 wards, and 5,720 polling centres that failure of the BVAS machines is widespread and has forced over 70% of the voters not to be captured, thereby rubbishing the popularity and credibility of the entire
The group demanded that INEC fire its ICT National Director and rerun the election to give it the credibility and popularity it deserves also urged INEC to reverse this high-tech rigging and find alternatives to the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System’s massive failure so that voters in the state could vote massively and conscientiously.
The group commended Anambra voters who bravely defied security threats all over the state’s political and electoral spaces to vote for their preferred candidates, only to be massively failed and disappointed by the commission.
Yiaga Africa, an election monitoring group, also criticized the deployment and non-functionality of BVAS, claiming that it had received reports of BVAS failing to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and photos even when the voter’s details were confirmed on the voter’s register.
Meanwhile, Senator Andy Uba, the APC’s governorship candidate, has won his polling unit.
INEC officials said yesterday that Uba had 80 votes in Ward 16, Polling Unit 17 in Uga, Aguata Local Government Area.
Senator Ifeanyi Uba of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) received five votes, while Soludo received ten.
PDP’s Ozigbo received two votes.
During a press conference as he arrived at his Uga Ward 1 polling unit 17 to vote, the APC candidate praised INEC for the smooth conduct of the election.
Soludo also received 126 votes in his Isuofia ward, Polling Unit 2 of Aguata LGA, while Ozigbo and the APC received five and three votes, respectively.
While YPP received three votes, ZLP and LP each received one vote.
Ozigbo also received 75 votes in his polling unit 010 Social Centre, Ward 005, Aguata LGA, defeating his closest rival, Soludo, who received eight votes.
The APC received two votes, while the Labour Party and the Accord Party each received one vote.
However, Mr. Nkem Okeke, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State who defected to the APC, lost his Umueze Awozu, Enugwu-Ukwu Ward 3, Polling Unit 005 seat to the APGA.
The APGA received 82 votes, while the APC received 61 votes.
PDP received four votes, YPP received two votes, and AAC, LP, and PRP each received one vote.
Ngige, Soludo, and Ozigbo Machine Malfunctions Must Be Overcome
Speaking on the BVAS malfunction, APGA governorship candidate Soludo stated that while he wants to be governor of Anambra State, he wants it done legally.
Soludo, who voted after about five hours in his Ward in Aguata LGA, expressed disappointment that many people did not vote despite arriving at the polling unit early.
“In my stronghold, the thing appears to have literally packed up, but, as I said earlier, I am a die-hard optimist, and I want to believe that the system will deliver.”
If they extend it until tomorrow, I am confident that these people will return to vote; wherever they extend it, these people will return to vote because they want to vote, and we want technology that allows all eligible voters to vote.