From Adanna Nnamani, abuja
The Center for the Defense of Transparency (CTA) has urged the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to increase voter awareness of the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices as the elections approach. general elections of 2023.
Faith Nwadishi, CTA’s chief executive, stated at a Monday press conference in Abuja that the BVAS is an improvement over the previous card reader and will undoubtedly decrease electoral malpractice in Nigeria based on the accreditation exercise organization’s observations. INEC simulation recently concluded.
Nwadishi suggested paying more attention to potential hotspots across the country and making party and security officials more aware of the do’s and don’ts of polling places on election day as well as well as the rights of observers.
“As part of INEC’s preparations for the 2023 General Election, a trial of the use of the BVAS was conducted through a simulated exercise held on Saturday, February 4, 2023 in 436 voting units in Nigeria; 12 per state and 2 within the FCT.
“One hundred sixty-five observers were deployed in 165 selected voting units throughout the country, including the FCT by the Center for the Defense of Transparency to observe the process. Observer reports indicated enthusiasm and confidence in the use of the BVAS.
“Reports from all states indicate that the accreditation exercise was peaceful and successful, but more awareness needs to be raised for those who have been migrated to other voting units. Observers and voters who participated strongly believe that the deployment of the BVAS will largely checkmate vote buying, especially on Election Day. It is also believed that the B-VAS will eliminate incidents of ticket theft.
“The CTA noted that at most of the polling stations observed, the accreditation process was peaceful and there was no chaos, as most of the machines used worked very well. Voter registration took between 1 and 2 minutes. At the request of the observers present in Area 10/Correos, the BVAS was subjected to a double accreditation test and it was verified that the BVAS can recognize any form of double accreditation, since the BVAS alerted that the person had been previously accredited .
“The CTA recognizes that the BVAS is truly an improvement over the previous card reader and will undoubtedly reduce electoral malpractice in Nigeria.
Overall, the process was smooth and peaceful, but likely voter turnout was relatively low due to little publicity and mobilization. Although there were cases of some who turned out to discover that their names were not among those scheduled for mock accreditation.
“However, the INEC official explained that the BVAS had been configured to allow 1250 voters per BVAS and by decongesting the UPs, the voters were moved to another BVAS which will be labeled accordingly.
“Some voters came out expecting to vote electronically but were disappointed in their expectations of INEC. For them, the BVAS must be an electronic voting machine and not just an accreditation device.
“Our observers in the states noticed that some PVCs could not be accredited by the BVAS because the cards were already faded. That is, the numbers or images are already fading, and the BVAS could not capture them.
“Interestingly also, in the Tashamota Wushishi LGA of the state of Niger, some voters were of the opinion that the mock exercise was a real election; that there was not going to be another election after the mock exercise.
“CTA observers in Nassarawa, Benue and a few other states reported that INEC officials and security did not allow observers access to voting units and accreditation centers because they did not have INEC tags on them. To us, this was not supposed to be the case as the INEC did not and has not issued tags for this exercise, rather the accreditation letters carried by the observers should have had a suffix.
“The CTA seriously pointed out that many people were unaware of the mock exercise which led to low participation in some areas. There was also a misconception that officials wanted to use the drill to copy their PVC numbers so they couldn’t vote on Election Day. This should not have happened if there was proper awareness building in the communities.
The ED condemned the mistreatment of one of its observers at Ika North East Ute-Okpu Elementary School by alleged political thugs on suspicion that she was a supporter of one of the political parties.
“They took her phone, although they later recovered it and deleted the photos. The PU police did not intervene during the harassment of him. However, she was saved from it thanks to the intervention of the community elders, who identified her as an observer of her. She then went to the clinic for treatment, ”she recounted.