Voting has been suspended in 141 polling stations in the state of Bayelsa
25 (EUROPA PRESS)
The Nigerian government has decided that it will not extend the voting deadline for the country’s presidential elections despite numerous technical errors that are making voting difficult due to the use of a relatively new electronic identification and counting system that has caused long queues at many polling stations in the country.
The elections have also been peppered with sporadic violent incidents, although less than expected by the authorities given the enormous violence that is ravaging a good part of the country due to the actions of the so-called “bandits” — criminal groups specialized in extortion and kidnapping. -.
Due precisely to this threat, the president of the Nigerian Electoral Commission, Mahmud Yakubu, has explained the need to maintain the closures at the scheduled time given the “perennial insecurity in the country”, according to a press conference collected by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has already announced in the afternoon the suspension of voting in 141 polling stations in the state of Bayelsa, in the south of the country. The president of the INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, has explained that the suspension is due to incidents that have affected the electoral process, according to the BBC.
Voting was supposed to start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. but many Nigerians have denounced the impossibility of voting on time. For this reason, the Commission has decided that those who are in line before closing time will be able to deposit their ballot anyway, but not later.
However, NGOs and international observers are already warning that the technical problems of the voting system could be more serious than the government anticipates.
For example, election observers from the Commonwealth and Nigerian Civil Society have called for action to be taken given the late arrival of some polling station clerks and election materials.
The head of the Commonwealth mission and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has lamented that “everyone seems to have arrived late”, and has encouraged electoral officials to speed up the procedures, according to statements collected by the ‘ Daily Trust’.
From Human Rights Watch (HRW), Anietie Ewang, has warned of “generalized insecurity.” “This has created a climate of fear that could discourage people from voting. There continues to be concern about violence across the country, violence that the security forces have not been able to stop,” she said.
Ewang has reported “thugs” harassing voters in Lagos. “It’s really worrying because the security forces have said that people would be able to go out and vote in a secure environment. There have been no incidents where the authorities have responded quickly,” he stressed.
In other areas, such as the south, people go out to vote “with resilience” despite the security forces, who, he recalls, carried out violent acts in the 2019 elections.
Also worrisome is the evaluation of the NGO Yiaga Africa, specialized in electoral monitoring, which has warned that only four out of ten polling stations had opened their doors at 12:45 in the morning, that is, less than two hours after the closure of polls in Africa’s most populous country, where almost 90 million people are eligible to vote in one of the most disputed elections in recent years.
Most of the complaints from citizens are addressed to the so-called Bimodal Vote Accreditation System (BIVAS), used by voters to verify their identity through fingerprint or facial recognition.
The system continues to cause problems throughout the country, electoral officials have recognized the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, when he was unable to cast his vote. This is the second time BIVAS has been used across the country, following last year’s state elections, when it already caused numerous delays.
To give one example, hundreds of people have been lining up at Awada Primary School in Onitsha, Anambra State, since the early hours of the morning, but have been unable to vote due to technical problems, according to a correspondent for the pan-Arab network Al. Yazira in the African country.
The system that is being used for the first time is the electronic transmission of votes to the server of the electoral commission, which in theory prevents the manipulation of the results during the physical transfer of the ballots, the object of constant complaints in the past. .