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SATURDAY’S governorship and state assembly elections have begun across all the states of the federation in the second round of the 2019 general elections.
However, while many states have witnessed an improvement in terms of the deployment of electoral materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), others are reporting a similar experience of the previous presidential and national assembly elections of February 23, where elections across the country did not commence at 8 am as promised by INEC.
As at 8 am on Saturday, voting has commenced in polling units across majority of the states, but in some others, like Lagos and Imo States, INEC officials did not show up at some polling units even way past 8 am.
At polling unit 03, Ward 15, Ikorodu, Lagos State, there was no INEC official as at 8:52 am, even though voters had lined up waiting to vote.
There were also cases of malfunctioning of the smart card readers in some of the polling units, forcing the INEC officials to resort to manual accreditation. This was the case at Polling Unit 30 Ward 9, Eti Osa LGA, Lagos State.
“As at 9:29 am manual accreditation ongoing as card readers are not being used due to the wrong configuration,” reported a journalist at the polling unit.
A similar scenario was reported at Polling Unit 019, Ikoyi, Lateef Jakande, Etio-Osa LGA, Lagos State, where a reporter said “the card reader has developed a fault. Voters are still patiently waiting for the arrival of a technician to check the faulty card reader”.
“Voting area is all set for voting but according to the presiding officer, voting has not commenced because they got a card reader with an incorrect date on it and they are currently waiting for the RAC technician to come and fix it. Voters and party agents are seen sitting on the road culvert, waiting for the card reader to be fixed,” the reporter wrote, adding that “though there are three voting points in the PU, only an NSCDC official was seen providing security”.
At an INEC Registration Area Centre (RAC) in Kosope Local Government Area, INEC ad-hoc staff were seen protesting the non-payment of their allowances for the presidential and national assembly elections held two weeks ago. They said the officials tried to offer them N7,000 but they refused.
The INEC National Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood, during one of his briefings, had explained that ad-hoc officials are entitled to a total sum of N30,500 for both the federal and state elections.
Some part of Imo State also witnessed late arrival of INEC officials, same thing that happened during the presidential and national assembly elections.
There were also reports of irregularities in some parts Mbaise, Imo State, where the locals were seen stuffing the ballot box.
There was also reports of perceived electoral fraud in Mbaitoli LGA, Imo State, as shown in a tweet by the ‘Situation Room’, a coalition of civil society organisations monitoring the election process.
State: Imo State
Voting not commenced because 17 sheets are missing from every pack of ballot papers brought by @inecnigeria
#SR2019Elections #SRObserves2019. #ElectionDay
— Situation Room (@SituationRoomNg) March 9, 2019
Voter apathy was also reported in Ogboko, Ideato South LGA of Imo State, the hometown of Governor Rochas Okorocha, whose son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, is the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA).
In some polling units in Rivers State, one of the states designated as a flashpoint by the security agencies, Election kicked off in good time in some of the polling units.
At Polling Unit 15 Ward 8, Obio Akpor LGA, voting had commenced as at 8.50 when reporters visited the area. Obio Akpor is the local government area where the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike hails from.
The smart card reader was functioning well and the atmosphere was peaceful. However, voter turnout was quite low.
Voting commenced on time and is largely peaceful across several polling units, according to reporters monitoring the process.
However, at one of the polling units in Ogbomosho, voters were being forced to vote for a particular party, some were being given money, while some voters returned home for fear of being molested.
A Premium Times reporter on the ground wrote: “9:21 am Ogbomosho South, Ward 4 PU 5, PU 6 and PU 7. The polling unit area of Sen. Buhari Abdulfatai. Voters are forced to vote for a particular Party (APC), there is intimidation by party tout who are forcing people to show their ballot paper, many voters are returning home. Also, there is an obvious sign of vote buying and everywhere here is very tensed. I can’t take pictures for now… I will try to gather more evidence.”
Follow The ICIR’s live updates of the governorship and state assembly elections across all the states of the federation and the FCT.