- INEC officials held hostage over failed IREV
- Police arrest SPO with cash for allowance of security agencies
From Romanus Ugwu, Awka
Brazen vote buying, malfunctioning Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), disturbing low voter apathy and other sundry factors characterised Saturday’s Anambra State House of Assembly election in several part of the state.
The situation was the same in most part of the polling units visited as agents and vote canvassers, outnumbering the voters, usually crowd any new arrival to the polling units to solicit for votes for the parties they represent.
Modus operandi are almost the same as every voter displays the ballot paper to reveal to the agents where they voted, then moves straight to the paypoint to collect their reward, which rangies from N1000 to N2000 and or promise of a bag of rice.
In some instances, the canvassers and agents would handover Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) they perhaps had earlier collected for the voters, to them on arrival that will in turn cast their votes in favour of the agents’ preferred parties.
In fact, a particular woman had arrived, refused to vote, moved from one agent to the other negotiating for better deal, before settling for a political party who promised her a bag of rice.
While all these incidents, prevalent at Ogbuegbankwu, 027, Awka 111, Awka South 07, Anambra C4 and other parts monitored in the state capital, were going on, the few security agents posted to the polling units watch with disinterest.
However, what was also evidenced in most of the polling units is massive voter apathy. While some traders opened their shop or display their article on wheelbarrow along the road at Eke Awka market, many young one chose to engage in sporting activities, especially football.
Some of the few voters that spoke to our correspondent hinged the apathy on the disappointing outcome of the presidential election of February 25.
“INEC actually showed us that our votes don’t count. We were killing ourselves here during the presidential election last month only for INEC to announce someone else as the winner. There is no need wasting our time again in the name of voting when it will not count,” one of them complained in a chat with our correspondent.
Interestingly, in most of the polling units our correspondent visited, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) arrived the polling units on time, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) operated optimally, but voters were very scanty.
However, on the flip side, some electoral officials were held hostage for hours following the failure of BVAS to upload the results into the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) real time.
An official who in charge of a polling unit at Obinagu, in Orumba North area of the state, told our correspondent that they passed through hell in the hands of the voters that insisted that they will not leave the polling unit until they uploaded the results.
“We pleaded with them because we cannot understand why the BVAS we used to accredit the voters could not accept the code to upload the results into the IReV. INEC promised us that the problem we encountered during the presidential election has been corrected, but see how they ended up putting our lives at risk.
“We managed to escape deceiving them that some of them should follow us to collation centre. It was a narrow escape for us,” the official who spoke to our correspondent in confidence said.
There was mild drama at Awka 5 area of the state when police arrest Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) with cash for the settlement of the police personnel that participated in the poll, mistaken him for an agent of vote buying.
As at the time of filing report, the arrested SPO is still detained at the police station.