FCT election: BVAS failure, low turnout as voting commences

The ICIR has observed that the Saturday councils election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been characterised by Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) failure, low voter turnout and late arrival of the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some areas.

Follow this link here for live update of the election.

The election, which is currently holding in over 1000 polling units across the six area councils that made up the FCT, is being contested by 478 candidates, who are battling for six chairmanship and 62 councillorship positions.

Fourteen political parties are participating in the poll, which holds in the six area councils namely; Abaji, Kwali, Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada and Abuja Municipal (AMAC).

The ICIR reporter, who visited the polling units across the Abuja Municipal (AMAC), observed that INEC officials were late to the polling units.

She added that the ongoing election in the council  also witnessed a low voter turnout.

The story is also the same in Gwagwalada area council, where The ICIR reporter in the area observed low voters turnout.

He also reported that the election in the council was also being frustrated by BVAS failure, making the accreditation and voting process slow.

In Kuje Area Council, The ICIR reporter in the area observed low voter turnout across multiple polling units with some deserted.

BVAS failure slows down process

He also highlighted BVAS failure and the late arrival of electoral officials as major factors frustrating the election process in the council.

Meanwhile, The ICIR reporter at PU 025/ Kuje Central/ ECWA Church, observed that both INEC staff and party agents were sleeping. The BVAS broke down in the morning.

Meanwhile as at 1:11pm, voters at Narati Sabo polling unit 003 at Abaji Area Council were frustrated as women who constituted a greater number of voters struggled for accreditation with huge concerns of BVAS machine failure.

Voters at Narati Sabo polling unit 003 at Abaji Area Council struggle for accreditation with huge concerns of BVAS machine failure.

Vote-buying in Abaji, Bwari

The ICIR has observed incidences of vote-buying in Abaji Area Council in the ongoing Saturday election.

The reporter, who is covering the area council for The ICIR, said although the polling units in the council were witnessing high voter turnout, party agents were soliciting their votes.

For instance, at Anyaura polling unit 003, over 2000 voters were reportedly accredited as security agents struggled to contain the ground, while All Progressives Congress (APC) party agents gave numbers to voters, telling them to wait at a designated area for reward.

A party agent, who did not want his name to appear in print, told The ICIR that the polling unit was the swing centre for Abaji local government chairmanship election.

The APC agents were seem intensifying lobbying.

Party agents were also seen clustering around and subtly wooing voters across other polling units in the council.

Similarly, at 12:16pm, there was an uproar at Dutsen Alhaji Primary School, in Bwari Area Council as a woman was caught sharing money to voters.

Confusion in Bwari on where to station polling unit

The ICIR observed that there was confusion in some polling units in Bwari Area Council, as voters who turned up at their polling units did not meet INEC officials.

The ICIR reporter, who visited some polling units in the area, said the INEC officials on ground were confused as to where to set up their cubicles for the election process.

The INEC officials, who first set up their materials for the election at the polling Unit 026, Dutse Gwari Extension, removed the materials and left, but later returned to the same place a few minutes to 12 noon to commence the election.

The situation is also similar at a popular mango tree in Dutse Alhaji, where voters who turned up did not meet INEC officials.

The voters around the place said there used to be two polling unit around the area but saw no INEC officials around, which made some of them return to their respective homes.

    As at 12:35pm, voters gathered at Mango tree said they used to cast their votes there and they have gone to other places around too to check their names but they didn’t find it.

    While some of them were seen holding their voters’ cards, others had gone back to their houses.

    The confusion could be connected to the INEC decision not to hold election in 593 polling units across the councils.

    The ICIR had earlier reported that the INEC said the election will not hold in 593 polling units across the councils without registered voters.

    'Niyi worked with The ICIR as an Investigative Reporter and Fact-checker from 2020 till September 2022. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

    A reporter with the ICIR
    A Journalist with a niche for quality and a promoter of good governance

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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