The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said that the disappearance of some adhoc staff and drivers hired by the commission for the Anambra State governorship election and malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) compelled it to extend voting period to 4 pm yesterday and today, Sunday.
Anambra Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, at a press conference in Awka, however said the revised closing time applied only to areas where polling units opened after the commencement period of 8.30am. INEC had set polling period to be between 8:30am and 2.30 pm.
He said: “It must be noted that on account of security concerns, some of the transporters that were mobilised and collected 50 per cent of their sign on fee backed out at the last moment, leaving some of our ad-hoc staff stranded.
Also, some of the trained ad-hoc staff backed out at the last moment. “The commission is on top of these challenges and extant regulations and guidelines will be applied on a case by case bases.
“Consequently, we are harvesting areas where voting will realistically no longer take place today (Saturday), including places where sub-stantial 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.”
The REC stated that, “In line with existing regulations and guidelines of the commission, any intending voter who is on the queue by 4.00 pm shall be allowed to vote.”
According to Orji, the extension of time arose out of several field reports that voters have had problems with accreditation.
There have been reports of malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) deployed to accredit voters for the election. The REC stated that INEC was investigating the reason why BVAS did not work 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,” he said.
Orji said presiding officer must inform the voters and polling agents should inform the voters and polling agents that accreditation and voting in polling unit where BAVS failed would continue on Sunday or at another time determined by INEC.
With this extension of time and the recommencement of accreditation where the BVAS consistently malfunctions, the commission assures that no voter will be disenfranchised.
“Our deployment has also been adversely affected by transportation challenges in some locations. The REC appealed to voters, candidates, stakeholders communities and political parties to remain calm and law abiding, and assured that the INEC was determined to a make all votes count.