Civil society groups monitoring the Anambra governorship election have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force to ensure that the election is not tampered with.
The groups, including; Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Yiaga Africa and Access Nigeria Campaign stated this in separate press conferences as part of their preparation for the election and also for the unveiling of their situation rooms.
The groups also called for early deployment of voting materials to the polling units.
Speaking to journalists, Convener of Civil Society Situation Room, Mrs Ene Obi said the group has received assurances from the INEC and police about their transparency in the process.
Obi charged them to maintain a high level of transparency during the election, noting particularly, the tense political environment and the subsequent apprehension that have trailed the election.
She said security operatives must discharge their duties professionally, to earn the confidence of the people.
“We note the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election. We also acknowledge the efforts of the security agencies to maintain law and order. Situation Room is counting on the assurances of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force that they are fully prepared for the election, with INEC assuring that logistics and deployment are fully under its control and the Police assuring that it will keep the security situation under check.
“Situation Room will work with her over 70 partners and networks to observe the election and receive reports from across the 21 local government areas of the State.”
She stated areas of concern to include; early distribution and deployment of personnel and materials, the timely opening of poll, adherence to COVID-19 protocols on election day, knowledge of election procedures by INEC ad hoc staff, the efficacy of the new Bi-modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS), the transmission of polling units results and transparent collation process.
Yiaga Africa in its press conference hailed the deployment of the BVAS by INEC for the election.
Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu who addressed journalists said: “The Anambra governorship election will be the first state-wide elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the expansion of voter access to polling units by INEC.
“In addition, the Commission will also be deploying the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a replacement to the Smart Card Reader. The BVAS has a dual capacity for fingerprint authentication and facial recognition.”
In a pre-election press conference also, Access Nigeria Campaign in collaboration with Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), leading a campaign; disability votes matter called for the right treatment for people with disabilities, during the process, to ensure their votes count.
Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association and convener, of the Access Nigeria Campaign, Grace Jerry said the group has conducted a polling unit accessibility audit on the election while calling on INEC and security agents to ensure the provision of materials that would aid voting by people with disabilities.
She said: “Disability Votes Matter Campaign is a disability rights movement led by Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) for Nigeria’s 30 million persons with disabilities (PWDs). The goal of the Campaign is to increase the participation of PWDs in Nigeria’s political and electoral processes by reducing the physical, attitudinal and institutional barriers that make it difficult or impossible for them to participate.
“Nigerians with disabilities continue to face challenges with participating in their country’s elections. Polling units are not always accessible to voters with physical impairments.
“The absence and/or inconsistent use of sign language interpreters during voter education and political campaigns makes it impossible for voters who are deaf or hard of hearing to be properly informed. These challenges are in breach of provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 and Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to which Nigeria is a signatory,” she said.
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