An observer group, Connected Development (CODE) and its media partners said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented results where elections didn’t hold in the last Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections.
The group said the Commission released results in some polling units where elections did not hold.
ICIR reported that CODE and its partners made the revelation on Thursday in Abuja during the presentation of its interim report on the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Speaking, Hamzat Lawal, CODE’s Chief Executive Officer said the group deployed 20,000 observers to monitor the elections in 80 per cent of polling units across the 36 States.
He raised several concerns about the management of the presidential and National Assembly elections by INEC.
“We observed late deployment of INEC staff and election materials, which led to the late opening of polls in 64% of polling units we observed, which saw many polling units close before exhausting the 6 hours of voting time, citing nightfall as an excuse.
“In many other polling units across the country, citizens’ resilience saw voting conducted late into the night with no power supply or light bulbs, under very unsecured conditions.
“For this purpose, many Nigerians were disenfranchised, and the most affected demography were Persons with disability, pregnant women, and elderly people. Registration Area Centers (RACs) were introduced by INEC to decentralize the coordination of logistics and effective deployment to achieve the early opening of polls, yet polls opened in some polling units across the country by 3 p.m. and above.
“We also observed that INEC in many polling units failed to adhere to her guidelines, stipulating that where an election fails to hold because of the late opening of polls or failure of the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC shall conduct elections in such polling units the next day, ” the group said.
Mr Lawal added that the group observed that in some places where elections did not hold, the results of polls were returned.
“An example of this is in Oru East LGA, Imo State. This systematic disenfranchisement of voters can partly be blamed for the 26.7% voter turnout witnessed in this election, which was anticipated to be much higher.”
On security, CODE said it observed the presence of armed Security Personnel in 28% of Polling Units.
“We, however, observed that there were several cases of voter Intimidation and disruption of polls targeted at suppressing votes in favour of other political parties. Security personnel were seen to be in these polling units, yet thugs carried on with their criminal acts unhindered.
“We also observed that Nigerians approached and participated in this election in high spirits, trusting the process on the assurance of INEC’s promised innovations which will ensure transparency of result collation and result management,” CODE added.
The group added that the deployment of BVAS and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) were presented to Nigerians as game changers in this 2023 general election, but it observed that citizens found it difficult to log in to the IREV.
“The IREV failed to upload any result of the Presidential election as at 10 p.m. of election day, and even when the results started uploading, it was in trickles.
“At this moment, 4 days after the Saturday Presidential Election, only 85% of the results have been uploaded. This is in sharp contrast to all the promise and assurance given by INEC,” the group stated.
According to CODE, the coming Governorship and State House of Assembly election will be another opportunity for INEC to redeem her image.
The group added that INEC needs to ensure transparency of the result management and collation process and ensure that polling unit results are uploaded timely on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) during the March 11 elections.