Presidential Election Was Free, Fair Until Counting, Uploading of Result – West African Observers

 The National Executive Director of the forum, Dr Sanwo Olatunji-David stated this on Tuesday.

A regional network of CSOs who observed February 25th presidential election have released its report.

The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) said the February 25 presidential election that produced Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, as the winner, was initially free and fair until counting and uploading began.

The National Executive Director of the forum, Dr Sanwo Olatunji-David stated this on Tuesday in Abuja while reviewing the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly polls.

He blamed some of the technical hitches on inadequate training of polling unit agents on the effective use of the BVAS.

On the coming gubernatorial election, he charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to address the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) glitch ahead of the March 11 governorship and State Assembly elections.

The WACSOF chairman stressed the need for the electoral body to finetune and expand data capacity as well as attend to all other necessary technical requirements relating to the upload of election results to its portal as stipulated in the election guidelines.

“Our observation across the polling units monitored identified the following: Late arrival of INEC staff and election materials made the process drag late into the night and brought about frustration on the part of the voters, and thus a fertile ground for electoral malpractices; shortage of election consumables such as ink pads delayed voting in some polling units visited; some of the polling unit agents were seeing the BVAS for the second time after their hurriedly packaged training and couldn’t operate the device efficiently, this created hitches and voter frustration.

“Election was free, fair and credible up to the point of counting. The situation, however, changed after counting and uploading the result was made practically impossible for presidential results. Above is at variance to the provisions of INEC regulations for this election and the Electoral Act,” he said.

He commended the aggrieved parties for seeking redress in court rather than resorting to violence.

“As a thematic group, our position is that the aggrieved parties did the right thing by approaching the Presidential Election Tribunal to address their grievances rather than heating the system.

“Nigeria cannot afford another crisis now with the tension all over the country caused by the naira crunch and the vexation emanating from the Feb. 25 elections. We believe that approaching the court will add value by enriching and deepening our democratic values,” he said.

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