Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) as well its results viewing platform (IReV).
Idayat Hassan, Director, CDD, said this at a news conference, ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and National Assembly elections.
Hassan said that the call was necessary because the functionality of the BVAS and IRev was critical for the credibility of the poll.
She called on INEC to leverage on key lessons learnt from the presidential poll of Feb. 25 to improve on the conduct of the state election.
“Improved functionality will contribute to greater election results transparency, but this can still be undermined by compromised INEC officials and ad hoc staff.
“The prompt submission of polling unit results to IReV is critical and will support an improved perception of INECs performance.
“The suspension of the RECs for Abia and Sokoto states for ’endangering the electoral process’ is welcome.
“However ,it points to the prevailing challenge that INEC officials and ad hoc staff can be subject to the whims and caprices of state governments in ways that negatively impact voter confidence and the election’s credibility,” she said.
Hassan said that to ensure the breaches, which occurred during the presidential poll do not happen again, CDD also tasked INEC to reprimand and suspend those found to be colluding with political actors in the states.
She urged all INEC ad hoc staff to abide by the commission’s code of conduct when carrying out their duties on Election Day and when announcing results.
“We also urge the Commission to be both proactive and responsive in its communication with voters, CDD urges INEC to avoid elongated periods of silence as this provides fuel for misinformation and disinformation to flourish.
Hassan said the states likely to witness incidents of political violence included Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Delta and Anambra with Kano the state with the most recorded deaths as a consequence at 20.
She said that Osun, Imo and Ebonyi have also seen a number of incidents in the past three months that could disrupt state house of assembly poll taking place in the state.
“ In total, 109 deaths linked to political violence have been recorded from the start of the year to 10 March 2023 according to the tracker.
“Based on its mapping, CDD predicted that violence linked to the states elections could worsen due to the activities of armed groups quasi-security outfits.
“Groups such as Yan Sakai, the Civilian Joint Task Force, Neighbourhood Watch, Amotekun and Ebubeagu have been, and can be, armed and deployed by state governors and their allies to perpetrate electoral violence or suppress voter turnout, particular in areas of strong opposition support.”
She added that Bauchi, Kano, Rivers and Sokoto all faced this scenario in 2019, with a high risk of repeat in 2023.
Prof. Adele Jinadu, the Chairman, CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), expressed hope that the extra time INEC had would translate into improved opening of polling units across the country.
Jinadu said polling units should also be fully equipped with the necessary voting materials to avoid scenarios observed in the presidential poll where voting continued well beyond the scheduled closing time.