From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
The Centre for the Advocacy for Justice and Rights (CAJR) on Monday advocated for the introduction of electronic voting and collation of election results starting from the next general polls (2023) by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to reduce cases of ballot box snatching and destruction of election materials.
CAJR said doing the aforementioned will build confidence of the citizenry in the electoral process.
This was disclosed by the Programme Officer of CAJR, Kingsley Obida, while briefing journalists on Election Related Incidences in North-Central Nigeria before during and after the 2019 general, held in Jos.
The project which is supported and funded by International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), USAID and UKAID; implemented the Nigeria Election Violence Report (NEVR) project 2019.
The States where they monitored the polls include Benue, Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa and FCT (Abuja).
Obida said, there were incidences of massive and open vote buying by politicians in most of the aforementioned States, especially in Benue, Nasarawa, Kwara and Kogi.
“There were also cases of ballot box snatching, destruction of electoral materials and intimidation of INEC and adhoc staff, among many other issues”.
On the way forward, CAJR recommended that “The electoral umpire (INEC) should improve in its effort in delivering free, fair and credible election by preparing early enough to reduce incidence of poor logistic, in the delivery of materials, timely presentation of budgets and release of funds.
“INEC should consider shifting from manual method of voting and collation of results to electronic, to reduce incidence of ballot box snatching and destruction of election materials, so as to also build confidence in the electoral process.
He said security personnel involve in the electoral process should be properly trained to know their roles in the election process thereby reducing their undue interference.
According to him, “Electoral offenders should be properly prosecuted so as to serve as deterrent to others who may want out similar act in future.
The group urged the electoral umpire to build more synergy with stakeholders such as NOA, CSOs, and other pressure groups; in order to create more awareness and the need for peaceful elections at all times.
The CAJR Programme Officer further call for the creation of a unified data to curb under age voting through the use of the National Identification cards, which will go a long way in dictating under age voters during polls.
“INEC should adapt a uniform and timely payment of allowances to all adhoc staff engaged by the commission, which will go a long way in not allowing them to be compromised by politicians”, he stressed.