Ahead of preparations for the conduct of the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, an election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa has raised the alarm of voter inducement going on within the state.
It also cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure it deploys an effective Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in order not to jeopardise the coming polls.
The group, which raised these observations in its third pre-election report for Ekiti State, noted that the shortcomings noticed during the use of the BVAS for local council elections in the FCT should provide enough notice for INEC to correct those abnormalities.
The report released for the Ekiti election reveals persistent voter inducement ongoing in the state.
“Political party campaigns were observed across the state with more reports of voter inducement received. This is closely related to the increasing adoption of door-to-door campaigns making it easier for direct voter inducement”, the group stated.
According to Yiaga Africa, While the BVAS achieved reasonable success in the Isoko-South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State, their deployment in state-wide elections like the Anambra governorship election and the FCT area council election was marred with widespread reports of the BVAS not functioning adequately and experiencing other challenges which led to the extension of voting time on election day.
According to Yiaga Africa, under the purview of Samson Itodo, the Ekiti election presents another opportunity for the assessment of the functionality of the BVAS and the capacity of INEC to resolve all challenges observed with the BVAS deployment in Anambra and FCT.
The group believes the deployment of BVAS is particularly important because the new Electoral Act in use provides for the deployment of technological devices for the accreditation of voters.
It further stated that INEC guidelines have made it mandatory to deploy the BVAS as the device now plays a central role in safeguarding elections and in guaranteeing that technical glitches do not disenfranchise every eligible voter who turns out to vote.
It reiterated, “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is responsible for ensuring that the BVAS functions optimally in the Ekiti state election.
“This will need INECs commitment to ensuring the mock voter accreditation exercise to test the effectiveness of the BVAS is conducted ahead of the Ekiti election as stated during the quarterly stakeholders meeting held on May 11, 2022,” the report said.
It called on INEC to ensure the conduct of a mock voter accreditation exercise with the BVAS before its deployment for the Ekiti governorship election while encouraging the commission to increase its voter education/information efforts, especially in underserved communities.