The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the closing of polls for Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State to 4pm
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Nkwachukwu Orji, made this announcement during a press briefing at the state INEC office.
According to Orji, the Commission has extended the period for opening and closing the Poll from 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. This applies to areas where Polling Units opened after the commencement period of 8.30 a.m.
“In line with existing regulations and guidelines of the Commission, any intending voter who is on the queue by 4.00 p.m. shall be allowed to vote. All Polling Unit staff must comply with this directive,” he said.
INEC ad-hoc staff had arrived several polling units late due to logistics issues. In Awka North, many polling units did not commence voting process until 12 p.m.
Stating the reasons for the lateness of INEC ad-hoc staff, Mr Orji said their deployment was “adversely affected by transportation challenges in some locations.”
“It must be noted that on account of security concerns, some of the transporters that were mobilized and collected 50 per cent of their sign-on fee backed out at the last moment, leaving some of our ad-hoc staff stranded,” he explained.
He added that some of the trained ad-hoc staff backed out at the last moment, and the Commission was doing its best to solve the challenges.
“The extension of time arose out of several field reports that voters have had problems with accreditation. 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. In some of the cases. It would seem that this resulted from software glitches. Our technicians have already built an update to the devise software to prevent further challenges. The update is currently being installed in the concerned BVAS and we request voters, candidates and agents to be patient and allow our technical staff to solve the problem,” Mr Orji said.
The commissioner, according to Premium Times, said in cases of sustained malfunction of the BVAS, the Presiding Officer must inform the voters and polling agents that accreditation and voting for the affected Polling Unit shall continue tomorrow or at another time determined by the Commission.
Mr Orji said with the extension of closing time and the recommencement of accreditation where the BVAS consistently malfunctions, no voter will be disenfranchised.
“Consequently, we are harvesting areas where voting will realistically no longer take place today, including places where substantial disruption has occurred, to enable a possible recommencement of voting at another time, in line with extant laws and the regulations and guidelines of the Commission.”
Mr Orji appealed to voters, candidates, communities, and political parties to remain calm and law-abiding, as the Commission is determined to make all votes count.