The African Bar Association has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission was ill-prepared for the 2023 General Elections, as monumental as it was.
President of the association, Hannibal Uwaifo, said this in a statement while disclosing the observations of the continental bar on the just concluded polls.
According to him, the AfBA, which served as an observer during the presidential and National Assembly elections, would submit a report of its observations to the Independent National Electoral Commission soon.
He thanked all Nigerians who took part in the elections, particularly the young people who turned out en masse to perform their civic duties in the hope of securing a better nation.
Outlining the irregularities which marred the polls, Uwaifo noted that despite enjoying adequate time to prepare for the elections, INEC failed to evenly spread registered voters across polling units in many parts of the country, a situation which created unnecessary crowd scenes during the voting exercise.
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He added that the vast majority of Ad Hoc staff employed by the commission were vulnerable and ill-trained to handle the pressure of an election of this year’s magnitude. He said the association was not impressed that INEC, which had four years to prepare for the election, was ill-equipped and ill-prepared.
He also described as sad the revelation that some of the Ad Hoc staff employed by the commission for the polls were only hired a few days before the election.
He said, “There were too many people in some polling units, while there were few people in some other polling units that were created. Why this could not be sorted out before the election is part of the observations we will be pointing out to INEC because if you created more polling units, then the ones earlier created would have been decongested to admit more voters to those polling units.
“But the reverse was the case because we had situations where there were over a thousand voters in one polling unit, while other nearby polling units did not even have up to twenty voters. When we inquired, we were told that the BVAS machines had already been customised to fit into those polling units, but we believe that INEC had enough time.”
The AfBA further condemned the logistical problems which caused the late deployment of men and materials to certain polling units, noting that this was unfortunate given the time and resources at the disposal of the electoral umpire to conduct the elections.
Uwaifo also said that the AfBA observed several infractions during the voting exercise across several polling units. These infractions, according to him, ranged from ballot box snatching to voter intimidation as well as failure on the part of presiding officers to transmit election results from their polling units.
The continental bar association, in reaction to the announcement of the election results, urged all aggrieved parties to refrain from any action capable of heating up the polity, but to approach the judicial apparatus of the land in search of redress.