Vote-buying, ballot box snatching, other irregularities mar Abuja council elections – Civil Society

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The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says Saturday’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) area councils’ poll witnessed massive vote-buying by politicians.

Austin Aigbe, senior programme officer, CDD, said this at a news conference in Mr Aigbe said observations indicated cases of vote-buying in Gwagwalada where votes were bought with money.

”Another case of vote-buying was reported in Ward 03 PU 003 where a voter was asked to quickly vote so he can be handed his money.

“At Abaji Southeast Ward Code 03 PU 003 there were reports of serious vote-buying, also at Abaji Ward 001 PU 003, party agents were seen doling out money to voters who only display their ballot papers indicating their party was voted for.

”In PU 003 Abaji Southeast Ward, the vote-buying strategy involved party agents asking voters who had been induced to converge in a particular location away from the polling unit to sell their vote. Money exchanged hands ranging from N1,500 to N2,500.

“Voters were thereafter asked to meet a particular person for submission of their PVCs,” he said.

Mr Aigbe said that the functionality of INEC Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voters during the election was also questionable.

 “In terms of the number of minutes spent on accreditation for areas where the BVAS worked, CDD EAC observers reported that voters spent an average of 8-10 minutes on the accreditation process.

“This translates roughly to eight voters being accredited in one full hour.

“CDD observers also reported that across all the Area Councils, AMAC recorded the greatest number of functional BVAS.

” The Area Councils where observers reported non-functional BVAS were Kuje and Abaji,” he said.

Mr Aigbe also said that data from CDD field observers indicated that the functionality of BVAS continued to be a major source of hitches and delays in the electoral process.

Furthermore, Armsfee Ajanaku, communications manager at CDD, said that the centre also observed low voters turnout in some places. Ajanaku said that in Ward 05 in Abuja Municipal Council (AMAC), a polling station with four polling units did not record a single voter turning out to cast his vote during the poll.

He said that the centre also witnessed poor crowd management, which led to INEC officials being overcrowded by voters, thereby disrupting the general electoral processes. He added that a serious fight ensued between voters and the queue was dissolved. Thereafter, a group of thugs invaded Ward 06 PU 003 and carted away the ballot box and other electoral materials.

The CDD said its data showed that 33.2 percent of INEC officials were women; while 66.8 percent were men across the observed areas.

(NAN)

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