INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during his first briefing on election day. He stated that thugs attacked a polling location in Oshimili, Delta State, resulting in the loss of two BVAS machines.
Similarly, thugs attacked a voting location in Safana LGA of Katsina State and stole six BVAS machines, but security personnel were able to recover three of them.
Mahmood expressed his disappointment at the fact that BVAS machines have become the target of political thugs. He emphasized that the commission’s responsibility is to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.
“In Oshimili LGA of Delta State, thugs attacked a polling unit and two BVAS machines were lost in the process. But again, determined that the election must continue, we were able to replace the stolen BVAS machines, and reinforced security agencies and voting continue in that polling unit.
“Similarly, in Safana LGA of Katsina State, thugs attacked one of our voting locations and snatched 6 BVAS machines. But again, we were able to recover and use the spare BVAS machines and reinforced security for voting to continue in that location.
“Happily, security agencies have recovered the BVAS machines but three are still held by the thugs. So in these locations, the target of attacks was the BVAS machines, no longer our ballot papers or the ballot box.”
”We will ensure that we continue to do what is right. So, we consider it auspicious to address the nation at this point and we’re going to continue to do so during the day intermittently.
“Until we formally commence the coalition. So far, so good, generally speaking, what is going on nationwide, the BVAS deployed nationwide is working optimally,” he added.
Mahmood Addressed Lateness at Polling Units
According to him, reports from various states in the federation raised concerns about the inability to commence voting at exactly 8:30 am. However, he assured that voters who were in line at polling units by 2:30 pm would be allowed to vote in line with the commission’s regulations. He attributed the challenge to the logistical constraints currently faced by INEC.
“Some of the polling units opened late. But in line with our policy, any Nigerian who is on the queue will have the opportunity to vote no matter how long it takes until the last person in the queue before 2:30pm votes.
“Some of the reasons why we could not open some of the polling units on time include perennial problems of logistics in spite of our best efforts. I think we have conquered the challenge of getting election materials to various locations.
“Though there may be complaints here and there, but generally speaking, we have delivered millions of ballot papers and result sheets that we are supposed to deliver for the elections,” he added.
He attributed the delay in opening polling stations to the ongoing insecurity in the country. He cited an instance in Alawa, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, where the Commission was unable to promptly deploy due to security challenges caused by bandit attacks. He clarified that the attacks were not on INEC offices or facilities.
“With the advice of the security agencies, we tarried a while but I am happy to say that we are able to deploy to Alawa, and voting in that location is ongoing as we speak,” Mahmood stated.