A coalition of election observers has faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for declaring the election of the Abia North Senatorial Election, citing disenfranchisement of voters and some irregularities observed during the election.
INEC had declared Orji Uzor Kalu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the senatorial election.
But addressing journalists in Abuja, the Head of the Coalition, Rasheed Shuaib said “The Senatorial election that took place in Abia North on 25th February 2023 was below the standard and acceptable electoral practice, contrary to INEC electoral Acts and guidelines, and against the wishes and expectations of the electorates/constituents”.
According to Shuaib, though electoral materials were supposed to arrive at 8:30am on election day, “this was not the case in all the polling units visited by our field observers in the senatorial district as there were almost general reports of the late arrival of INEC Ad-hoc staff and electoral materials.”
The election observers who said they deployed about 500 field observers for the Abia North Senatorial election, also said there was a late distribution of electoral materials to the various Registration Area Centres (RAC) across the 5 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Abia North, especially in Arochukwu and Ohafia LGAs.
“In some instances, no attached law enforcement agencies would escort the INEC materials to the various polling units. As a result, a greater number of INEC Ad-hoc staff could not proceed to their place of primary assignment on election day since the election time was almost up.
“A special case in Bende LGA, where election materials moved from the LGA headquarters early but took some time to reach most of the polling units, while voters were waiting”, he noted.
He said some polling units received their election materials between the hours of 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm as reported by their field observers at the LGA.
“The BVAS was supposed to be used to authenticate or capture the faces of the voters in all the polling units where the elections were held, but our observers noticed that the machines were either not functioning or were not used in most of the polling Units.
“We also observed that some INEC Officials which were originally posted to some areas were dropped and their names changed to entirely new persons as confessed by one of the Youth Corpers we interacted with”, Shuaib stated.
“The collation which was supposed to be done at the ward level was done at the LGA while some of the Youth Corpers disappeared with their result sheets and reappeared at the wee hours of the night with mutilated results and some never came back especially in some units in Bende LGA.
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