A Non-Govermental Organisation, Cleen Foundation, has lauded the conduct of the Independent National Electoral Commission and security operatives deployed for Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra.
This was contained in a statement by the foundation's Director, Mrs Ruth Olofin, on Sunday.
Olofin disclosed that the NGO monitored the conduct of security personnel at the election in collaboration with the Police Service Commission and a media outfit.
She said the NGO deployed its mobile application called the Cleen Mobile App which allows accredited observers to report security issues from their respective posts.
“Our 21-man Election Security Support Centre tracked, documented, escalated and followed up on security-related issues across local government areas during the election.
“There was adequacy of security personnel at all polling units. The minimum number of security officials seen in polling units was one, while we also recorded up to 16 security officials in polling units in some hotspots.
“We also observed that 88.2 per cent of the security personnel were wearing easily identifiable nametags and this is commendable. However, we observed that 11.8 per cent were not wearing easily identifiable nametags.
“We observed that 64.7 per cent of polling units were protected by unarmed security personnel. There were reports, however, of firearm possession by security personnel on patrol.
“The statistics generated indicated that 47 per cent of security personnel arrived at polling units before 9 a.m. while 53 per cent arrived after 9 a.m.
“This is below average and we urge security agencies to improve on timeliness in terms of arrival in subsequent elections,’’ Olofin said.
“INEC’s technical teams responded to some of the technical challenges as they arose, which is laudable,’’ she added.
Olofin said that other information related to election security were tracked and verified through credible media sources and social media platforms of credible partners.
She said that there was a general calm across the state and an improvement in voters’ turn out at the election,
She said also that there were challenges with logistics and deployment of voting materials in some parts of the state.
Olofin also told newsmen that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System devices deployed by INEC malfunctioned in some polling units.
She noted that challenges ranged from internet connectivity, lack of facial recognition and authorisation of fingerprints; some were also linked to errors during voter registration.
The NGO’s executive director lauded the turnout of women and youths at the election.
Olofin, however, lamented that security personnel deployed, especially by the Nigeria Police Force, were poorly remunerated as a lot of policemen were found without hospitable accommodation.
She said that it portrayed a wrong impression and brought to fore, the issue of welfare package for police officers which had been a recurring challenge in previous elections.
She urged the police hierarchy to improve on the welfare package of police officers deployed for election in the future.
According to her, the proper and adequate remuneration of security personnel will boost their motivation and ensure that officers discharge their mandate without prejudice or undue influence by political actors.
Olofin also urged INEC to ensure improvement in the distribution of materials to avoid disenfranchisement of citizens and also to improve the response time for addressing the BVAS challenges to increase voters’ trust in the process.
“We observed that voting did not begin early in some polling units because the BVAS devices malfunctioned.
“For Instance, in Polling Units 010, 011 and 014 in Ward 3, Dunukofia Local Government Area, there were reports of late accreditation because the BVAS devices malfunctioned.
“Similarly, at virtually all the polling units at Ward 2, Anambra East LGA, and Polling unit 4, Ward 4, Abaga, Njikoka LGA, we observed that the malfunctioning of the BVAS and poor logistics by INEC caused delay in the commencement of voting.
“Officials were seen working hard to reach their ICT centres to resolve the issues.
“There was late arrival of electoral officers at polling unit 7, 8, 9, & 10, Ward 1 Ekwusigo LGA, and also at polling unit 001, Ward 2, Ihiala LGA, where INEC officials and election materials were not present until 1p.m.
“In spite of the delay, voters were present at the unit waiting for the officials to arrive.
“INEC should work to improve on the BVAS devices and other technical tools and materials to aid easy, swift, and advanced electoral process in the future,’’ she said.
She said the NGO would continue to observe the election and later issue a post-election statement with more details on the overall conduct of the security personnel.
Olofin enjoined INEC, law enforcement and security agencies to maintain the highest level of professionalism during result collation by guarding against any form of compromise that could scuttle the democratic process.