Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), an election monitoring group, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of not doing enough to educate voters about migration to other polling units.
According to the group, such information was necessary in order not to create confusion on the day of the election proper.
The group believes that lack of publicity and mobilisation was a major factor that contributed to the low turnout of voters during the exercise, hence, the advice INEC to drastically address the issue.
CTA observed that INEC officials and security agents didn’t allow observers’ access to the polling units and accreditation centers because they did not have INEC tags.
The group said, “For us, this was not supposed to be the case since INEC did not and have not issued tags for this exercise, rather the accreditation letters carried by the observers should have suffixed.”
The suggestion was a fallout of CTA’s observation at the recent Mock Trial of the Bi-modal Accreditation System (BVAS) and accreditation exercise preparatory to the 2023 general elections.
Faith Nwadishi, CTA’s Executive Director, in a press conference on Monday in Abuja, however, commended INEC on its level of preparations, saying reports from across the States indicate that, the accreditation exercise was peaceful and successful but more awareness needs to be created on those that were migrated to other polling units.
“Observers and voters that participated strongly believe that the deployment of the BVAS will greatly check-mate vote buying, especially on election day.
“It is also believed that the BVAS will eliminate the incidents of ballot snatching,” she stated.
The Center noted that in most polling units that were observed, the accreditation process was peaceful and no chaos was recorded as most of the machines were functional and reliable.
The CTA further recommended among other things that more sensitisation on the use of the BVAS and relocation of names to decongest the polling Units (PUs), proper enlightenment and training of party agents, more sensitisation of security agents on the dos and don’ts at PUs on election day and the rights of observers among others.
According to her, BVAS took between 1-2 mins for accreditation of voters and that the BVAS easily recognized any form of double accreditation by alerting that, the individual had been accredited earlier.
She acknowledged that the BVAS is an improvement over the card reader aimed at reducing electoral malpractice in Nigeria.
“The process was generally smooth and peaceful but the turnout of prospective voters was relatively poor due to low publicity and mobilization”, the CTA Boss stated.
The group also lamented that many people were not aware of the mock exercise leading to a low turnout in some areas and alleged that there was a misconception that officials wanted to use the exercise to copy their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) numbers so that they would not be able to vote on election day, stressing that this shouldn’t have happened if there was adequate awareness in the communities.
Speaking about the need to hasten up voters education with less than ten days before the conduct of the presidential election, Nwadishi admonished Nigerians and other stakeholders to support INEC towards achieving credible, peaceful, fair, inclusive, and conclusive elections in 2023.