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Breakdown of BVAS machines leaves Anambra voters stranded in guber polls

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THE Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for authentication of voters at the Anambra guber elections have malfunctioned in several parts of the state.

The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Vincent Ozigbo, who had his thumbprint rejected several times by the BVAS before he cast his vote at Amesi, Aguata Local Government Area, said “most people might be disenfranchised because the BVAS was not working​.”​

“It got to a point the network actually failed and we had to improvise. I am appealing to INEC and all the stakeholders to extend the voting time. We need more people to get their votes in,” he said.

Voters’ complaints were rife that the process of verification by the BVAS was slow. Some of the polling units visited included: Amawbia II, Awka South LG, Nkwo Ide Square in Idemili South LGA and Ufuma Ward II in Orumba North LG.

Other polling locations where voters experienced the same difficulties were Amesi, Isuofia all in Aguata LG; Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LG; and Alor in Idemili South LG.

At polling unit 8, Umueze I in Orumba South LG, only two persons had successfully voted as of 1:24 pm as the BVAS was slow in accrediting voters due to poor network.

The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chukwuma Soludo was also delayed when he cast his vote at Isuofia ward, in Aguata LG, because of the non-functioning of the BVAS machine.

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In Amawbia, Awka South LGA, the BVAS gave INEC officials a tough time at PU 005, St Peter’s Nursery School 11. INEC officials said it was difficult to capture the faces of voters with their PVCs as some of them got the PVCs when they were younger.

It was also the same at Ndikpa Square Umunze ward 1 at PU 018, Orumba South LG, where the BVAS frustrated INEC officials and voters alike.

The BVAS is a system that combines fingerprint and face biometrics for voter verification.

Chairman of INEC Mahmood Yakubu, in an interview before the election, said the use of BVAS was to guard against voting by identity theft.

The BVAS was deployed in its pilot phase for the Isoko South I State Constituency bye-election in Delta State on September 11 as a new device to replace the Smart Card Reader (SCR).

Eighteen political parties and candidates are in the governorship race, with voting expected to take place across 21 local governments areas of the state.

INEC revealed prior to the election that 2.5 million voters were registered in 5,720 polling units in the state, but there will be no voting in 86 units because there are no registered voters there.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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