PDP, APGA candidates laud INEC on free, fair electionThe PDP and APGA candidates in the 2016 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council election in Bwari on Saturday commended INEC for the smooth conduct of the election in the area.
The candidates spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bwari, Bwari Council Area of the FCT.
They expressed satisfaction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over conduct of election in the area.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship candidate, Mr Simon Gwani, opined that INEC had improved in terms of standard in the conduct of the election.
He noted that accreditation and voting commenced early at Igu ward where he voted.
“We thank INEC for its improvement on electoral process, whereby you can now be accredited and also cast your vote at the same time.
“Here in Igu ward, accreditation started at 8. 30a.m. and till election was concluded there was no problem of any sort, particularly on use of the card reader device.
“The electioneering process was smoothly carried out and the turnout also was impressive; there was no issue of voters apathy,“ Gwani said.
He urged the electorate to accept the outcome of the election in good faith, saying “election is not a do-or-die affair. “
He advised the electorate to shun acts of violence, adding that it could affect democratic processes negatively.
“Do not indulge in electoral violence as a means of expressing your grievances because that can impede the growth of our nascent democracy, “ he said.
In an interview, Mr Anyanwu Francis, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Councillorship candidate for Ushafa ward, said that INEC should sustain its efforts aimed at conducting credible election.
According to him, INEC should do more to improve on the previous electoral process.
“We believe that INEC has put measures on ground to conduct a hitch free election, but we look forward to an improvement from what we have now.
“We know them for their integrity at least judging by what we saw in the last election; we hope that they will replicate same this time or even do better.
“Our party expects improvement in the commission’s performance during the FCT council polls, “ Francis said.
NAN reports that attempt to interview Mr Musa Dikko, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship candidate, did not yield any result because he refused to speak with newsmen.
Bwari records large turnout of voters
Voters in Bwari Area Council of the FCT trooped out in large numbers on Saturday to elect a chairman and councillors of their choice.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the impressive turnout was a deviation from previous elections, where voters’ apathy was noticeable.
Election began with the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive voting materials at 7 a.m. in most of the wards and polling stations, while accreditation and voting commenced at 8.30 a.m.
There was heavy security presence as well as a large turnout of election observers in most wards.
At the Gaba Village Polling Unit located in Bwari Central Ward, accreditation and voting commenced at 9 a.m. with high turnout of voters.
Also, accreditation and voting commenced early at the Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School Polling Unit in Igu Ward, the PDP Chairmanship candidate, Mr Simon Gwani’s ward.
NAN further reports that voters turnout at the Market Square Circle and LEA Polling Units both in Ushafa Ward, was equally impressive, as voters including the aged cast their votes early in the day.
Similarly, a large turnout of voters was recorded at the LEA polling units, where the All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship candidate, Mr Musa Dikko, voted.
However, at the LEA polling units 1 and 2, JAMB, Government Secondary School, Federal Government Girls College, Army Camp Ground, all under Bwari Central, accreditation and voting started late.
Meanwhile, the INEC Electoral Officer, Mr Shittu Tata, told NAN that only four political parties were eligible to contest in the chairmanship poll.
The parties include PDP, APGA, Action Alliance (AA) and the APC, while only APC, PDP and APGA contested for councillorship.
According to Tata, 161,671 registered voters were slated to participate in the election, while 1,358 ad hoc staff were employed to conduct the exercise.
No faulty card reader – INEC
Abaji (Abuja) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that no card reader malfunctioned in Abaji in Saturday’s council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Reacting to a claim of faulty card readers in some polling units during the election, the Electoral Officer in Abaji Area Council, Mr Fayor Emmanuel, said what was recorded was mistaken swap of the device. Emmanuel told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abaji that some ad hoc staff mistakenly took card readers not meant for their polling units. “No, don’t say there are malfunctioned card readers. “What happened is that some ad hoc staff mistakenly picked card readers they were not supposed to pick; so, there are few with such problems, may be just two,” he said. He, however, admitted that the batteries of some of the card readers ran down, and said “that is why we have now switched on our generators to charge the batteries”. Emmanuel said that the commission had done and was still doing everything possible to make the elections hitch-free.
Journalists escape lynching in Abuja
Journalists escape lynching in Abuja
The journalists from the Sun newspaper, FRCN, and Core television who had stormed the rowdy polling centre on election monitoring and tried to talk to the helpless corps members at the mercies of only one unarmed policeman, but incurred the wrath of the hostile youths for having the audacity to find out the cause of the disorderliness.
The situation became more tensed when the youths insisted that the journalists must leave the village, mobilising from 10 to 20 and up to a threatening and intimidating number, brandishing sticks and dangerous weapons, pushing and shoving them until they were chased out of far distance from the polling centre.
With the only unarmed policeman struggling to cope with controlling other rattled troublesome youths, the village leaders, who built a networked hand wall, had to come to the rescue of the journalists, calming and appealing to the rampaging youths bent on smashing their camera and other gadgets to ensure they did not take anything negative out of the place.
Before speeding off from the scene for safety, the journalists had while interacting with Assistant Presiding Officer, a corps member, gathered that what triggered off the crisis was an attempt by a party agent to educate an old woman on how to cast her vote, adding that such gesture did not go down well with certain persons which resulted in the protest.
One of the villagers among those protecting the journalists said: “It was even the presence of you, journalists that charged the atmosphere. This village is always a flashpoint in every election. They have so much to hide because there will always be incidences of underage voting, ballot box snatching and other electoral offences. Please leave the village in your own interest and safety.”
Securing their lives, the journalists had reported the incidence to the Kuje Police station, warning that the lives of the helpless corps members were at a very big risk, which resulted in the standby patrol van heading to the area.
Meanwhile, the failure of the card readers to verify the finger print of the voters, the use of Incident Forms, high illiteracy of the electorates and voters apathy in some polling centres were some of the challenges that characterised the Area Council elections held in Kuje.
Speaking to our correspondent who monitored the election at Chibir Ward 002 in Kuje, an Assistant Presiding Officer, Olumolade Adekunmi, attributed the failure of the card readers to the occupation of the electorates, adding that since most of them are predominantly farmers with think thumbs they had to resort to the use of Incidence Forms.
“The voting commenced by 8.00am and I can assure you that the voters are cooperating very well. In fairness to them, there has not been any form of violence. However, the major challenge we encountered here is the failure of the Card Reader to pick their fingerprints.
“Their thumps are very hard, understandably because of the nature of their occupations as farmers. We have only 2000 registered voters in this ward but the reading of the fingerprint really slowed down the operations here and in most cases where we cannot verify their finger prints, we don’t have other option than to use the Incidence Forms and allow them to vote,” he noted.
Peaceful – Observers
A large number of voters were seen standing in the morning sun for hours waiting for the electoral officials to rectify card readers problem which has delayed voting as APGA was displaced at the unit. Some of the officials who spoke to Vanguard said they arrived the unit by 8 am but up till 9.30am, voting was yet to commence due to card reader issue while some voters who could no longer endure the waiting left. Voters were also asked to go and cross-check their names on the board and wash their hands before they vote. In Polling unit 004, voting commenced at 8.45am but had low turnout. A team of observers led by Hon Muhammed Lawal said the election had been peaceful so far in the areas they visited. Lawal was not however pleased with the fact that APGA was displaced in polling unit 006 for whatever reason.