Amidst claims and counterclaims of victory by the major presidential candidates of the 2023 election, Nigerians are on edge as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gets to the final lap of the collation exercise of the elections.
The Nation Newspaper had reported earlier that presidential candidate Bola Tinubu was ahead in the polls in the Southwest, Northwest, and North Central. There are counterclaims and allegations of rigging by other candidates that the election exercise may be compromised.
The Labour Party had earlier raised an alarm over the inability of INEC to upload results on the official website of the commission in a timeous fashion. The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has also called on the INEC to upload the results to the commission’s website to avoid the activities of unscrupulous elements from influencing the results of the elections.
Besides, there have been several viral videos on various social media applications of ballot box snatching, as well as doctoring of polling results with the use of tippex in the name of glitches experienced in sending results to the national collation center.
The chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in his 13:00 election update to the nation, said INEC is the only source that is constitutionally empowered to release results to the public.
However, many voters whose votes have been carted away by political thugs at several polling units, especially in Lagos, feel they have been disenfranchised and express wonderment about how the INEC will address their disenfranchisement grievances.
Mary Asukwo, a resident of Iba Estate, whose ballot box was snatched in her presence, amidst a scuffle with thugs, told Nairametrics that she does not understand how INEC would be able to capture her vote. She stated that INEC had an extra four years to prepare for these elections after the 2019 elections, and wonders how all of the ballot snatching could still be happening in 2023. Asukwo said the credibility of the polls is already in doubt.
Henry Omokaro, whose vote was snatched by thugs in the glare of the Nigeria Police in Ojo Local Government Atrea, said the activities of thugs are undermining the credibility of the 2023 elections.
Popular Nigerian musician, actor, entrepreneur and politician, Olubankole Wellington, also known by his stage name Banky W, said his polling unit has not been captured in the entire electoral process. He said if INEC did not correct the situation at his poling unit it would amount to disenfranchisement. Banky W said the people registered at his polling unit had stood under the sun since Saturday morning, and into Sunday morning waiting to vote but to no avail with INEC citing lack of voting materials to carry on the exercise.
Folake, a beautician in Surulere, said men with guns came shooting at the polling booth where she cast her vote on Saturday, and carted away all of the electoral materials as voters scampered away to safety. Folake says she wonders how her vote will be counted to reflect her will. She said many friends of hers related similar experiences.
Meanwhile, sequel to news making the rounds on Saturday evening that voting would continue in several parts of Lagos and other parts of the country in continuation of the exercise on Sunday, it was gathered by an Arise News correspondent that no voting was held on Sunday, after visiting several polling centers listed for voting continuation on Sunday.
In a related development, the INEC chairman, who addressed Nigerians on the collation guidelines, said collation will begin at 18:00hrs on Sunday.
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