A civil society organisation, Centre for Democracy and Development, has decried the spate of vote-buying, low turnout of voters and the failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System in the ongoing Anambra State governorship election.
It said the challenges could affect the credibility of the election.
In a statement to Sunday PUNCH, the CDD said it observed instances of vote-buying across party lines in different parts of the state, indicting officers of the Nigerian Police Force who it alleged of feigning ignorance.
The statement read in part, “Observers reported numerous not-so-discreet cases of ‘see-and-buy’ in polling units across the 21 LGAs of the state. In many reported cases, police officers have been alleged to have looked the other way, likely as a result of having themselves been compromised.
“This practice, which appears to cut across party lines, has been an increasing feature of Nigerian elections and requires more concerted remedial efforts by INEC and other critical stakeholders.”
The CDD further said the low turnout of voters portrayed the uncertainty which prevailed ahead of the election, including the high levels of voter apathy that had been recorded in the state.
The group also bemoaned the persistent failure of the newly introduced voter accreditation system across polling units in the state, noting that it affected the smooth conduct of the elections and could disenfranchise some voters.
The CSO, however, said there were a few incidents of reported intimidation or violence, which eliminated the fear and uncertainty that preceded the process.
It said security agents were absent when accreditation in different polling units began, a situation it said could have added to the uncertainty among voters and officials.
“Where security agents have been present, reports indicate that they have largely respected rules of engagement and acted with professionalism. This is highly commendable and we hope that this mode of engagement with voters is sustained till the end of the electoral process.
“Likewise, the withdrawal of the sit-at-home order pronounced by IPOB has contributed to the opening of the polls and the relatively peaceful atmosphere we have witnessed. We noted that as the hours progressed, more voters began to show up at the polls, as information spread that accreditation and voting were proceeding largely peacefully,” the group stated.
It urged the INEC to properly train its officials in the use of its BVAS devices, imploring voters to remain calm and, where possible, to monitor the outcome of the polls up to result announcement.