Friday, January 21

Anambra poll: INEC use of BVAS classical, innovative – Group

By: Awesome Ekene

A group, Justice Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC) has described the use of Bimodal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the just concluded Anambra governorship election as classical and innovative.

The Executive Director, JDPC Onitsha Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Dr Edwin Udoye who stated this during the review of Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election report, however regretted the malfunctioning of the machine which resulted to delay in verification and non swift authentication of fingerprint and defect faces.

He attributed all the problems associated with BVAS during the November 6, 2021 Governorship election to its poor handling by many INEC ad hoc staff which he alleged were ill trained and lacked requisite knowledge in its operationalization, urging INEC to address the shortcomings.

He also expressed surprise that the same BVAS, which failed to work on November 6th election in the state, worked perfectly on November 9th Supplementary election in Ihiala without any record of failure, urging INEC to sustain what it did with BVAS in Ihiala for subsequent elections in Nigeria.

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Anambra poll: INEC use of BVAS classical, innovative - Group 1

He said, “What is of more concern to the election and what should be source of worry, as it affects subsequent elections in the state and Nigeria in general, is money sharing and vote buying, which was public, conspicuous and rampant across all parties.

“From the reports of over 550 carefully trained stationary observers among others deployed by JDPC Onitsha to observe the election, campaigning continued at the polling units even though some voters refused to succumb to the money inducement to sell their conscience for money.

“The election recorded early arrival of some voters in many places, notwithstanding the palpable security challenges, tension and fear, some voters manifested resilience, commitment, determination, fearlessness and audacity in trooping out to exercise their franchise.”

The group further regretted that many voters were discouraged by late arrival of INEC ad hoc staff with election materials in almost all the polling units, attributing the delay to poor logistic plan, limited number of ad hoc staff and disappointment from bus owners contracted to carry out conveyance activities, which was lately remedied.

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It also listed other challenges to the election as security threats, accreditation of domestic observers by INEC, late arrival of INEC officials and opening of polling units delayed the commencement of accreditation and voting across several polling units and religious bias, delay.

On its recommendations, JDPC said that INEC should endeavor to have a registered transportation company to move the election materials and officials on election day in subsequent elections in the country to reduce delay, just as it should critically examine and maintain the factors that enabled the BVAS machine to perfectly work in Ihiala LGA but almost did not work on November 6, 2021 election.

“INEC should quickly implement the electoral laws against vote buying and sanction/suspend defaulting political parties, just as to engage in continuous and intensive voter education that will include comportment and behaviour of voters at polling unit,” it added.

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