Yiaga Africa, an independent election observer group, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure early deployment of election materials and personnel to polling centres in Anambra.
Yiaga Africa made the call at an Anambra governorship election pre-election news conference in Awka on Friday.
The group, said effective logistics including security deployment to hard to reach areas and blind spots would go a long way to checking the possibility of acts that could undermine the integrity of the election.
Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director of the group said this was required to ensure consistency in the application of Electoral Guidelines as previous observations showed that only 28 per cent of polling units had officials by 8:30 am while 75 per cent commenced accreditation before 10 am.
He noted that its pre-election observation which started in August across the 21 Local Government Areas indicated that violence, vandalism and destruction of candidates/supporters’ property characterised the build up to the election.
Itodo also noted that voter inducement like distribution of money, food items and gifts were manifestly observed during the party campaigns adding that they lacked issues or policy ideas.
He said there were incidents of violence and attacks by unknown assailants in Ogbaru, Anambra East, Nnewi North, Ekwusigo, Orumba and Ihiala and that the incidences affected the quality and freedom of campaigns.
Yiaga noted that only three political parties including the PDP, APC and APGA dominated the campaigns adding that generally there was no adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
The executive director lauded the security deployment for the election and called for effective coordination of personnel to ensure safety of election workers.
Itodo also commended INEC for its preparedness so far especially in improving voter access to polling units by creating additional 1,112 polling units in Anambra State.
”Yiaga Africa is however, concerned that there are 963 polling units with 750 or more registered voters.Some of these polling units having over 1,000 registered voters.
“With the likely shortfall in the number of polling officials, the high number of registered voters in these polling units may pose a major challenge for crowd control and effective management of the polling units on Election Day.
“INEC Should ensure proper coordination with the security agencies to forestall incidences of violence and ensure the safety of voters and poll officials on election day.
“The Commission should ensure proper and consistent communication with the transport union and companies providing logistics support for election day deployment,” he said.
He said that this also included the contingency plans in situations where respective transport unions /companies withdraw from the contract or fail to deploy.
“Yiaga Africa calls on security agencies deployed for the election to respect the rights of citizens, media, and observers, including the right to freedom of movement on Election Day for duly accredited observers and media practitioners.
“Security agencies should ensure protection for vulnerable voters, especially women and persons with disabilities.
“Political party candidates and supporters should ensure they promote peaceful elections, encourage citizens to collect their PVCs to vote and refrain from any form of physical or verbal attacks on opponents or their supporters,” it stated.
Also at the news conference were Ezenwa Nwangu, Board Member, Cynthia Mbamalu Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa. (NAN)