Over-voting claims trail Nigeria State elections as biometric checks allegedly skipped
Elections held on November 11 to pick governors in three Nigerian states of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi were marred by reports of major irregularities including over-voting, according to multiple local media reports.
These claims come despite the availability of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) deployed for the polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The BVAS is a two-factor biometric authentication system to verify the identity of registered voters before they cast their ballots at the polling station.
The allegations of over-voting were most pronounced in the state of Kogi, with two losing candidates in the governorship race alleging that results in some Local Government Areas (LGAs) showed the number of votes cast surpassed the number of persons accredited to vote, News Flash reports.
The complaints notwithstanding, INEC on Sunday night, declared the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Usman Ododo, as winner of the Kogi polls, per Channels Television.
The two runner-up candidates, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Dino Melaye of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have slammed INEC for ignoring complaints about what they say are glaring irregularities which significantly affected the outcome of the election.
Melaye, who emerged third in the polls, according to INEC results, claimed that in some LGAs, the electoral agency abandoned the biometric devices and resorted to manual voter accreditation, opening a window for fraud. He also mentioned irregularities including vote-buying, alleging the collusion of INEC officials.
Ajaka, for his part, called on INEC to cancel results in areas in Kogi where there was over-voting, just like the electoral umpire did in some polling units in Bayelsa. He said in the central senatorial district of the state, there was massive fraud in five LGAs. In one of the LGAs, Ajaka said 130,000 persons were said to have voted whereas BVAS records showed only 30,000 were accredited, News Flash narrates in another report.
Ahead of the election, INEC had announced that 1.8 million citizens had collected their voter ID to cast their ballot. It also said it would deploy 11,000 BVAS machines for the polls.
The BVAS has been the subject of controversy in previous elections in Nigeria. In the general elections early this year, delays in transmitting results from that machines sparked calls for them to be reconfigured, but the federal government said at the end of the day that it was a game-changer in the electoral process.