Obio/Akpor Local Government Area (LGA) Ward 13, Unit 49 in Rumuadaolu, Rivers State is less than five minutes drive from the INEC Office.
By 1.30pm on election day, with ban on vehicular movement except for election duties, materials had not arrived to commence accreditation and voting. In Ward 11 Unit 18 of Ahoada West, by 3pm, which was past the voting time allowed by the guidelines, materials had not arrived. Same was experienced in several places to the frustrations of teeming voters who came out as early as 7am, determined to ensure nothing stopped them from casting their votes. In the end many were disenfranchised as voting was aborted with many still on the queues into nightfall.
It was the same ugly story in many polling units across the country. Ballot boxes were snatched by thugs. Voting was disrupted by armed hoodlums who chased away voters. INEC officials either refused to upload the results sheets on the INEC central server or changed the figures at the collation centres.
There has been an outpouring of emotions by Nigerians following the frustrations and pains they went through when they went to the polls last Saturday for the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
They spoke on the lessons that were learnt during the exercise and whether they would continue to trust the Independent National Electoral Election (INEC) under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to conduct a free and fair election in the country.
National President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitru Pogu:
We’ve learnt a bitter lesson from last Saturday’s election because the INEC chairman explained the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Law telling us that cast votes will be transmitted in real time on the INEC server. While we looked forward to that, unheard of rules were introduced and all they did was votes allocation rather than a reflection of what the people did at the polling stations.
INEC cannot be trusted, it has shown that it is not a credible entity under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the result we had was a charade. What Prof Mahmood has done shouldn’t just be reversed but he should also be punished for trying to set Nigeria on fire through the unwholesome behaviour he put up contrary to what he himself said was the interpretation of the Electoral Act 2022.
Hon. Goodluck Ibem, President General, Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly (COSMBYLA)
The lesson to draw from the last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections is that in a democracy, power belongs to the people. For four incumbent governors to lose their Senatorial ambitions is a confirmation that in a democracy anything is possible.
The bitter part of the election is that the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu compromised and declared someone who failed, as the winner of the Presidential elections. So many people came out for the first time to vote because of the assurance by INEC that the BVAS will transmit the election results from the polling unit to the IREV which will make the process credible.
But the National Chairman reneged on his promise as contained in the electoral law and resorted to manual collation which helped him to declare his preferred candidate as President-elect despite falling woefully in the elections.
Ishaya Durkwa, International Organization for Peace Building and Social Justice, PSJ
INEC assured Nigerians on numerous occasions that it was prepared to conduct a free, fair, and credible election but the pulse of the masses and party agents at the polling units, ward level, and the national collation centre suggests a cruel fraud in the entire conduct of the elections.
There was late arrival of INEC staff, who in many cases did not show up till 3:00 pm for a process that was to start at 8:00 am. Failure of BIVAS machines slowed down the process and left majority of voters waiting and in the end, over 40 percent of voters in many polling units could not cast their votes.
Some INEC staff came without Form EC8A to record results at the polling unit with many electoral officers claiming they were not issued while some only went back to get them after pressure from electorates. INEC also failed to upload results on iReV and adopted manual transmission of results as against what was agreed. Such flaws, pose a cataclysmic threat to the survival of democracy and the very peace and existence of the nation Nigeria.
INEC has upgraded its deceit using technology. The devices they spent millions to acquire were abandoned. Nigerians have every reason to doubt the sincerity of INEC, that is why their officials are to be checkmated to forestall another daylight robbery.