Voting in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital is yet to commence due to late arrival of security officials at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Registration Area Centre (RAC) in Ajayi Crowther Memorial Senior Secondary School.
According to the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo who has been at the RAC since Friday to observe the proceedings, only two security officials were deployed the previous night, despite several requests made by officials from the Local Government office in Lokoja.
He added that security officials eventually arrived at the centre at 7:42 am which questions the transparency of the management of election security deployment.
“When the officials deployed from the local Government office requested for security, only two security officials were deployed as of last night and it delayed the distribution of sensitive materials.
“Several calls were made to security agencies and they promised they were going to deploy, but we were shocked and surprised that up till about 7:40 am this morning, the security officials were not here.”
Mr Itodo asked INEC to prepare for an extension of voting time due to the late deployment of security officials and the fact that two elections will be taking place at Kogi West; the governorship and senatorial elections.
“The INEC officials were ready to deploy but they couldn’t; so for this particular ward that has got 27 polling unit, 100 voting points with a total number of 49,000 registered voters is commencing the elections very late.
“This cast a lot of doubt on the transparency of the management of election security deployment, particularly for this ward which is big and critical.
“They need to prepare because there may need to extend voting for this polling unit that is commencing late due to late deployment of security officials,” he added.
He also revealed that other RAC’s had similar delays in the deployment of security officials based on preliminary data gathered from the PVT centre.
“Other RACs we discovered that there was delay in the deployment of security officials. As at 7 am, the reports we got from over 222 polling units, 53% of PU had reported the presence of INEC officials based on preliminary data we received from the PVT Data Centre.
“I hope that INEC is watching this situation and ensuring that when it comes to logistics deployment for this election are guaranteed.”
Mr Itodo gave details of some incidents reported at Omala Local Government Area, where thugs are interfering with the process and intimidating the polling officials.