BY Maryam Abdullahi
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the delay in providing logistics and failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) affected the efficiency of the election process in Nigeria.
Ernest Koroma, head of the ECOWAS electoral observation mission to Nigeria, in a statement on Monday, also cited attacks recorded in some areas.
Nigeria held the presidential and national assembly elections on Saturday.
Koroma, also the former president of the Republic of Sierra Leone, said other challenges such as violence and snatching of BVAS devices and ballot boxes caused the postponement of the elections in some states.
“After careful analysis of the information received from the observers deployed in the field, the Mission notes the following: The late start of voting beyond the 08:30am opening time due to the late arrival of polling officials and voting materials and, in some cases, the delivery of wrong materials, at polling stations across the country,” the statement reads.
“There were postponements of elections in some polling units in Lagos, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers and Edo states, due to electoral violence or logistics challenges, the unavailability of sufficient quantities of electoral materials in many polling stations across the country.
“The visible presence of security agents discharging their duties in accordance with the provisions of the law in some polling units, however, they were inadequate. Most polling officials and ad-hoc staff demonstrated inadequate knowledge of their duties, especially with the voting materials.”
Concern was also raised about the low turnout of voters in some areas.
“The set-up of most of the polling units visited did not adequately protect the secrecy of the voting process, presence of international Observers from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth, the British High Commission, NDI/IRI and other local observer missions in some polling stations,” he added.
“There were cases of BVAS failure to accredit voters due mainly to technical issues relating to login details, configuration or internet connectivity.
“The processes on E-Day unfolded in a generally peaceful environment. However, incidents of violence, killings and disruption were recorded in several States. The Mission deplores the unfortunate incidents that occurred in the lead-up to E-Day, leading to loss of life in some parts of the country.
“These include the murder of the Labour Party senatorial candidate for Enugu East senatorial district, alongside five of his supporters; and three persons who lost their lives in Kano in clashes between supporters of two rival political parties, APC and NNPP.
“On E-Day, an attack perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents in Gwoza local government area of Borno state resulted in five persons injured. Similarly, there were reported attacks by bandits in Alawa, Shiroro local government area of Niger State.
“Violent incidents were likewise recorded in the Matoluku area of Oshodi in Lagos state, where masked men, armed with pump action rifles disrupted voting and burnt ballot papers and boxes.
“There were also reported cases of ballot snatching and BVAS theft in some states, including Delta, Katsina and Anambra.
“Specifically, an incident was recorded in Oshimili local government area of Delta state, where thugs attacked a polling unit and, in the process, fled with two BVAS machines. Similarly, In Safana LGA, Katsina state, thugs attacked a voting centre and snatched six BVAS machines.”
He urged INEC to improve communication on developments about the electoral process to avoid misinformation.
ECOWAS deployed a technical team of 250 short-term observers to six geopolitical areas to monitor the elections in Nigeria.