Anambra Governorship Election stuttered as tension mounts over device failure, ineptitude of INEC officials in using device, APC Andy Uba wins polling unit

Eighteen political parties and candidates are in the governorship race and voting is expected to take place across more than 5,000 polling units spread across the 21 local governments of the state.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said ahead of the election that there are 2.5 million registered voters and 5,720 polling units in the state but there will be no voting in 86 of them because there are no registered voters there.

But there are stuttering start as in Unit 2, Umueze Isuofia in Aguata LGA, for instance, there’s been a problem with the bimodal verification device as the major functions of the device are not working.

These include thumbprint recognition and facial capturing. As of 9:56 am, only one of the 717 people registered has been captured and was able to vote. Voters are becoming restless, saying they are already losing confidence in the process.

At 9:54 am voters at Ugah, Aguta LGA, the polling unit of Senator Andy Uba were seen standing by awaiting the arrival of the electoral officials.

At 9:58 am: electoral officials arrived Otolo Ward 2, Nnofor Hall, Nnewi North LGA. This polling centre is where Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is expected to vote.

By 9:50 am, accreditation and voting have yet to commence at Otolo Ward 2, Umuenem Hall in Nnewi LGA as electoral officials have just arrived at the polling centre.

According to them, the late arrival is due to the delay in the distribution of materials from the RAC centre at Nnewi High School.

The commencement of accreditation and voting was not uniform across polling units but spanned between 9:10 and 10;15.

There is apprehension and tension as voters in the Saturday election are unable to cast their votes. At polling unit 002, Isuofia ward, eligible voters were unable to vote hours after accreditation was expected to start in the 2021 Anambra governorship election.

The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the election, Charles Soludo, is expected to vote at the polling unit.

The failure to vote was attributed to the Bimodal Verification Device, which failed to work despite being replaced with additional support.

The device is used to accredit voters to enable them to cast their ballot.

Soludo is also yet to cast his vote as he maintains that it makes no sense to vote when his crowd of supporters are yet to vote.

“Voting is yet to start in most of the polling units in the state. And for the few places where they are doing, I understand that accreditation that is supposed to be done in seconds, takes up to 30 minutes,” Soludo said. “With the crowd here, you don’t need a mathematician to know that people standing here, will not be exhausted.

“So this raises fundamental questions about the technology. I’m quite a bit shocked. And this is all over the state. I’ve been getting calls from virtually every local government without exception, about the glitches, and the fact that people are not voting. Places where you have about 800, 900 people there you probably have about five, six that have voted so far.

“The fundamental problem is the failure of the technology that is being tried in Anambra; it just hasn’t worked up to this minute.”

Soludo also lamented the paucity of INEC staff in many polling units.

“There is hardly any ward that there are INEC officials in all the polling units,” he said.

“There is one at Uke that is supposed to be 17 polling units, but you have INEC officials in only five.

“Also, the security. As you can see, there is no police official here. And that is also widespread across the state. In Ihiala local government, the latest report I have is that the materials haven’t even left the local government, let alone get to the polling unit.

“I’m a diehard optimist. I’m still hoping to see if we can have water out of the stone, so to speak. I believe I’m a process person. I’m very confident about the process. The INEC Chairman assured us of the robustness of this new technology, that they tried it somewhere for a rerun of the state assembly; but that’s a small location, depending on how the network is in place. Now, the fundamental thing they are complaining about is the network. It’s 1pm, it hasn’t worked.

“My message to all our supporters, millions of them across the state, that have enthusiastically looked forward to this day, I say to you: let’s be patient. They told us it’s going to work. And I am patient.”

Before now, INEC had extended the voting time for the election to 4:00 pm on Saturday following challenges with the accreditation of voters.

In a statement, the commission explained that those who are on the queue by 4:00 pm will be allowed to cast their ballot in the race to pick Governor Willie Obiano’s successor.

“The extension of time arose out of several field reports that voters have had problems with accreditation,” INEC said.

“The Commission is currently investigating the reason the accreditation devices, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), have worked perfectly in some Polling Units, but not in others.”

However, an error by the Presiding officer at polling unit 008 Awka Ward 7, Umuokpu Awka, Awka South Local Government Area has led to the cancellation of all votes cast.

Trouble started when INEC supervisor in charge of the Area Collation Centre arrived at the polling unit and discovered that the BVAS recorded 0 voter accreditation while several people had voted.

She told ABS News off the record because she was not permitted to talk to the press that upon investigation she discovered that the Presiding officer made an error with the BVAS system which made it not to document people who have voted.

She said consequently this will lead to the cancellation of votes as the number of votes cast must tally with the number of accredited voters recorded by the BVAS.

She said she has approved that voting continues till one hour after the scheduled time as the only option was to restart accreditation and voting afresh

Meanwhile, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Andy Uba, has won his polling unit in the ongoing Anambra governorship election.

INEC officials, who announced the results on Saturday, said Uba had 80 votes in Ward 16, Polling Unit 17 in Uga, Aguata Local Government Area.

The flagbearer of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chukwuma Soludo, scored 10 votes while the candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Ifeanyi Uba, polled five votes.

Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got two votes.

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