BY SARAUNIYA G USMAN, ABUJA
A coalition of over 70 civil society organisations (CSOs), on Saturday, expressed concern over the incidences of smart card reader’s failure and eruption of violence in the ongoing elections.
The CSOs, under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to respond swiftly to the challenges.
Mr Clement Nwankwo, the Convener of the group, made the called in Abuja at a press briefing on the interim report of the ongoing Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
”Reports of smart card readers are significant in this election. Situation Room received reports of several instances of smart card reader failure which have necessitated INEC officials resorting to manual accreditation.
”This was reported in Binji Local Government Area in Sokoto state and Owerri North LGA in Imo state.
”States where card reader challenge is prevalent also include, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Abia, Nasarawa, Kebbi, FCT and Kaduna.
”The Situation Room restates, strongly, that there should be no voting without proper card reader authentication,” he said.
Nwankwo also expressed worry over the rising incidences of violence and reported deaths in some states of the country.
”At the time of this statement,” he said, ”Situation Room has received reports of about 16 deaths across eight states: Borno – 2, Bayelsa – 2, Rivers – 6, Yobe – 2, Kogi -2, Ebonyi – 2, Lagos – 1, and Zamfara – 1.”
”In Lagos State, there are reports of disruption of voting by suspected political thugs who have shot in the air in some places and set ballot boxes and paper on fire in others.
‘”In the Okota, Isolo and Oshodi suburbs of Lagos, there are reports of violence, some caused by non-arrival of INEC officials and materials.
”Situation Room calls on INEC and the security agencies to respond swiftly to these issues and arrest culprits as promised by the Inspector General of Police,” he said.
The convener said the group noted with disappointment the impact of INEC’s logistical lapses on the elections.
He said their observers reported late opening of polls at several parts of the country.
”According to YIAGA Africa, South East and South South recorded the lowest number of early poll openings.
”About 27 percent of polling units had opened as at 10 am in the South East. In the South South, it was only 21 percent.
”The average across other parts of the country was about 45 percent as at 10 am,” he said.
He said the late arrival of materials and ad-hoc staff accounted for much of the delay in polls opening across the country.
Nwankwo, who stated that the Situation Room received reports of incidents of vote buying in some states, called on INEC and security agencies to nip the practice in the bud before it undermined the sanctity of the vote.
”Nigerians have defied various challenges to exercise their civic responsibility, we call on INEC to do everything to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised and to quickly address outstanding logistical challenge.
”The Situation Room calls on voters to continue to be law abiding and to report through appropriate channels, challenges with the process,” he concluded.
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