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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Anambra decides: Tales of card readers’ malfunction as voting gets underway



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By Favour Goodness

The gubernatorial election in Anambra has not been as poor as had been anticipated due to the calmness so far reported from all the 21 LGAs.

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And contrary to the fears that many would not come out to cast their vote due to the threat of sit-at-home by the IPOB even though it reneged on Thursday, the sources on ground report that the turnout of voters has been impressive.

However, the major snag against the smooth process is from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that seems not to have got right its logistics.

There have been widespread reports and anger over malfunctioning of voters’ card readers.

At Isuofia, Aguata LGA and particularly, the polling unit of the APGA candidate for the election, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the report has been bad as at almost midday where not a single voter had cast a ballot as the card readers could not help.

In the same Aguata at Amesi, the hometown of the PDP candidate, even though the candidate, Val Ozigbo had voted, but he expressed serious concern and fears of disenfranchisement of voters as the card reader was also not working well.

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Another report we got from Nri in Anaocha LGA raised the same concern as the card readers had not been functioning properly, delaying voters from casting their ballot.

On a Whatsapp group, a member who is currently in Anambra made a post to complain that the situation at Fegge, headquarters of the Onitsha South LGA has been a mess.

Elderly voter slumps after long wait to cast vote. The concerned voter lamented: “I just left ward 5 (Fegge Community Primary School) now.

The environment is calm with friendly security men. There is a reasonable number of them and rightly without arms.

The negative to it is that many including me will not vote. Beyond expectation, people came out in good numbers but the capturing device is a mess. It took more than an hour to capture an old woman who was asked to smile, open her mouth, show her teeth and all that before the system captured her.

Agitated at the slow space, I engaged one of the INEC officials to know if there is an alternative in view of the system failure but she answered in the negative.

Aside the fact that they reported at the polling station at about 11am, we waited but certainly cannot vote.

This is not about the parties now but for me a failure from INEC.”

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At Soludo’s place, a medium reported that: “At the polling unit of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Chukwuma Soludo, voters in the hundreds are stranded. Not a single person has voted as of 10:07 am because the biometric machine is not working.

Our Correspondent at the polling unit interviewed angry voters who have been agitated that they have not been able to cast their votes in the last two hours.

“Not a single person has voted in this polling unit with more than 200 voters waiting to cast their votes,” a voter who was interviewed said.

The INEC official at the polling unit said he has communicated to his supervisor at Awka who said the problem is not peculiar to the polling unit which is located at the Aguata local government area of Anambra State. But some analysts say it could a plot to systematically disenfranchise the voters.

There is also the challenge that security operatives are not at the polling, despite the climate of fear that exists in the state.”

The election holds in all the 5,640 polling units in the 21 LGAs with over 2.5 million registered voters expected to decide the next governor of the state from early 2022.

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