Voters in Bwari and Gwagwalada have expressed disappointment over the malfunctioning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during Saturday’s FCT Area Council poll.
A cross section of voters advised INEC to work towards rectifying the problem.
Mr Dan Angulu, a voter in Bwari, said that he went out as early as 8:30a.m. to vote, lamenting however that the failure of the BVAS had slowed the process.
Angulu said that the machine refused to work when it mattered, leading to delays in accreditation and voting.
“Imagine that out of 10 people, the machine will just pick one person after several trials. If this continues, we will be here until night time without getting accredited, given the multitude here.
”This is already noon and it is not good. INEC should reach out to us with an alternative or else, all this multitude will be wasted,” he said.
Mr Salihu Matthew, an election observer, supported the claim, saying that it was quite unfortunate that people came out early enough to commence the voting process but have been unable to vote.
”These people came out early and in their numbers to vote, but the challenge is that the machines are not functioning efficiently.
”While one of the machines refused to function at all, the other was delaying. It’s almost noon.
”We have the elderly here and they cannot continue to stand in the queue for hours because they want to exercise their constitutional rights.
”I urge INEC to look into these challenges immediately. These people are out and willing to vote, they should not be left to suffer for this, especially the elderly, they cannot continue to wait for long,” Matthew said.
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He however called on all and sundry to allow for a free and fair process and not allow foul play.
It was observed that the centre had five polling units but only two of the units had long queues, with only one functional machine.
INEC’s official at the centre however turned down journalists’ requests for comments on the challenges, as at the time of filing this report.
Also in Gwagwalada, Alhaji Abubakar Giri, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairmanship candidate, expressed fear that the malfunctioning of BVAS would disenfranchise many voters.
Giri, while addressing journalists after he cast his votes at his ward, said that the problem of the BVAS was the only major problem of the election.
According to him, “when I went to cast my vote, the machine was not working well, but I succeeded in voting.
“But the complaints we are still receiving is that the machine is rejecting most of the people.
“We are appealing to INEC to find a solution to the BVAS because it will disenfranchise most of the electorate which is not proper,” he said.
Giri acknowledged that it was the first time INEC was using BVAS in the FCT election.
“Although this is the first time we are using this machine in the FCT election, if the experience is like this, then in subsequent elections, INEC should not use this machine,” he said.
He noted that the election was still on and there was still time for INEC to proffer solutions in wards and units where the BVAS was malfunctioning, to rectify the problem.
He lauded the turnout of voters for the election and the strategic deployment of security personnel.
“The turnout of voters is very impressive and interesting, people really turned out massively, but the machine is the problem.
“At my polling unit I was so impressed with the turnout of people who came out to cast their votes.
“The security arrangement is also properly done. Since I’ve been participating in elections in FCT, I have not seen the security or INEC behave so well.
“I said it sometime earlier that INEC is more serious this year, because there was no complaint of delays in sending materials. The only complaint now is the machine,” he said.
He expressed optimism that he would emerge winner at the end of the election so that he can begin his empowerment programmes for youths and women in Gwagwalada.