A Nigerian diplomat and a lawmaker have both criticised INEC’s handling of the Anambra governorship election, especially the use of the Bimodal Voters Authentication System (BVAS).
The two men, who spoke in separate interviews, are members of rival political parties.
Dozie Nwankwo, who represents Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia federal constituency of Anambra State in the House of Reps, is a member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and a staunch supporter of its candidate, Charles Soludo.
On the other hand, Elijah Onyeagba is the Nigerian ambassador to Burundi and also the leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Njikoka Local Government Area.
Both men are from Enugu-ukwu town in Njikoka local government.
Speaking shortly after casting his vote in his polling unit 004, Ward 3 of Enugu-Ukwu town, Mr Onyeagba said the slow and malfunctioning of BVAs is not acceptable as it has resulted in many eligible voters being disenfranchised.
“As you can see, many voters who have stood under this scorching sun have grown tired and are leaving and this is not acceptable. Anambra is the guinea pig for this BVAs platform,” the ambassador told PREMIUM TIMES and other journalists and observers present.
Mr Onyeagba appealed to INEC to allow manual accreditation as the BVA technology seems to have failed.
He said a lot of work needs to be done to make the BVA efficient for subsequent elections.
In his reaction, Mr Nwankwo, the lawmaker, said it is “sabotage” on the part of INEC not to rectify any issue that will cause hitches during the election despite repeated promises to do so.
The lawmaker spoke shortly after casting his vote Saturday afternoon at PU003 Ebe Enuagu Hall, Enugu-Ukwu Ward 001, in Enugu-Ukwu town of Njikoka local government. He rued the long hours he spent on the queue due to the malfunctioning BVAs and network hitches that made him and others try many times before they were accredited.
“The process is not going well. The machine is not working. INEC is the one sabotaging the election.
“Imagine a polling unit of over 1000 registered voters, only 20 voters have been able to vote,” Mr Nwankwo told journalists present.
“At the National Assembly, we never voted against electronic voting. It’s good but INEC is sabotaging the election,” he said
INEC had promised to rectify the challenges witnessed with the newly introduced BVAs at a runoff election in Delta State two months ago.
BVAs are said to be more efficient than smart card readers as it enables human recognition through a biometric verification mechanism, using both fingerprint and facial recognition of voters.
However, in many polling units observed by our reporters, the machines malfunctioned and did not authenticate many voters’ fingerprints, as well as facial recognition, making the entire process slow and cumbersome.
Many potential voters returned home due to frustration with the slow pace of voting and accreditation caused by the malfunctioning BVAs.
The commission called for an emergency press conference in Awka, Anambra State capital by 2 p.m. to address the challenges with the BVAs and other issues.