Nigeria Election 2023: Why voting went into the night in some areas
Nigeria Election 2023: Why voting went into the night in some areas

Nigeria Election 2023: Why voting went into the night in some areas

Counting of votes is currently  under way in Nigeria's tightest presidential election since military rule ended in 1999.

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There was a high turnout of voters at all polling units with many of the youth who are first-time voters arriving before dawn to cast their ballots.

Yesterday's voting was marred by long delays at some polling stations, as well as scattered reports of ballot box snatching and attacks by armed men.

Due to this voting continued throughout the night in some areas while voting in other areas were postponed to Sunday in parts of Bayelsa state where voting is currently underway.

There were also complaints over the use of the recently introduced electronic voting system with many voters accusing electoral officials of refusing to upload the results at the polling units as they are supposed to.

However, in those areas where voting went smoothly, results are already being posted outside individual polling units and the results from tens of thousands of polling stations around the country are being collated and sent to the electoral headquarters in the capital Abuja.

At a press briefing at the INEC headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the Chairman of the INEC, Chief Mahmood Yakubu apologised for the delays at some areas and explained that this is the first time they are using the electronic system and some of them performed optimally.

He said the election day was largely peaceful but there have been reports of violence and ballot boxes being snatched by thugs while some voters complained of being attacked and chased away from polling stations.

The INEC Chief also announced that at least in five states, voting in some places did not begin until around 18:00 local time - one-and-a-half hours after polls were due to close so voting was extended to ensure that all eligible voters had the chance to exercise their franchise.

He said there have also been reports of tension in parts of Rivers and Lagos states, where some political parties have asked their members to go to the centers where votes are being collated, over fears that they are being manipulated.

Mr Yakubu said that armed men had also attacked some polling units in the southern state of Delta and the northern state of Katsina, where six of the voter-card verification machines were taken away by thugs and the security managed to recover three while efforts are being made to recover the remaining three.

He said two other BVAS machines that were stolen by thugs together with the three machines were subsequently replaced and security boosted to allow voting to take place, he added.

In the north-eastern state of Borno, Mr Yakubu said that militant Islamists had opened fire on electoral officers from a mountain top in the Gwoza area, injuring a number of officials.

He said the commission has to postpone voting in some areas to Sunday 141 polling units were disrupted but all voting materials were safe so the votes were postponed to the next day.

Chief Yakubu said there was a clear omission of a candidate on the ballot paper so that election has been rescheduled to March 11.

He assured Nigerians, Africans and the international community that the INEC is on top of issues  and committed to ensuring free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

He also acknowleged the presence of Ghana's EC Chair, Mrs Jean Mensa and other electoral commission chairs from South Africa, Liberia, Tanzania, Niger, Namibia and Sierra Leone among others. 

From Mary Mensah, ABUJA NIGERIA. Courtesy FBN Bank

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