Anger, attack in Delta as Card Readers, late arrival mar polls

He said: “The process is smooth all the way, accreditation was very quick, it took less than a minute. For me and my wife, it was quite smooth using the Card Reader, but I am getting some feelers from some places that it did not work perfectly

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State on Saturday expressed satisfaction at the turnout and peaceful conduct of the elections in Delta State.

But hundreds of voters lamented their ordeal with the Card Reader Machines used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the accreditation of voters.

Governor Uduaghan, who voted at Unit 1, Ward 6, Abigborodo in Warri-North Local Government Area of the state, where materials arrived at about 11.15am, observed that though accreditation commenced late, the turnout as “very impressive”.

He said: “The process is smooth all the way, accreditation was very quick, it took less than a minute. For me and my wife, it was quite smooth using the Card Reader, but I am getting some feelers from some places that it did not work perfectly.”

While expressing hope that the Peoples Democratic Party would win landslide in the elections, the Governor decried an attack on a PDP chieftain “by some thugs of the opposition party”, assuring the people of the state that security agents were on the trail of the thugs.

Governor Uduaghan, who cast his votes at exactly 3.25p,m was earlier accredited at 12.50pm along with his wife, Deaconess Roli Uduaghan.

As at 11am on Saturday, many of the Polling Units across the state were yet to receive their voting materials, even as the exercise was literally slow.

Victims of the Card Reader imperfection took solace in the Incident Forms provided by the commission, but some who could not wait to fill the forms, angrily abandoned the exercise.

Prior to the commencement of the exercise, however, the commission cancelled the conduct of the election for Ethiope East and West Federal Constituencies respectively in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state over shortage of materials.

The situation forced the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Peter Onwusanya, to lament how eligible voters were rejected by the machine successively within 15 at his Ward in Oshimili South Local Government Area of the state.

The Speaker, who could not hold back his anger, said: “It is dangerous to try this Card Reader of a thing at this moment. The machines have rejected more than 10 persons within the 15 minutes I have spent on this queue. As it is now, the only escape route for INEC is now the Incident Form. That was why we insisted from the onset that this machine will disappoint Nigerians.”

Tension heightened in some council areas, including Abigborodo, as voters, who have queued for hours for the commission to take delivery of the sensitive materials, which the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Aniedi Ikoiwak, said have been moved away from Asaba, the state capital, on Thursday amidst tight security from the premises of the branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria to the 270 Registration Area Camps created across the 25 Local Government Areas in the state, to the Polling Units, were no where to be found.

The situation was the same at Onicha-Olona in Aniocha Local Government Area of the state.

The former Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, who decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party to the Accord Party to realize his senatorial ambition, could not be accredited until around 12noon due to the late arrival of materials.

However, the malfunctioning of the Card Reader Machines in Ika North-East Local Government Area of the state, the domain of PDP governorship flag bearer, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, also at Ward 5, situated at St. Brigid’s Girls Grammar School, Asaba, in Oshimili South Local Government Area, where the former South South Zonal Woman Leader of the PDP, Chief Theodora Giwa-Amu voted, sent panic across the electorates.

The ex-woman leader wondered why her picture and other information showed but the machine failed to recognize her finger prints.

She decried what would have been the plights of many voters in others parts of the state and the country at large.

The situation was not different in Ika South council area of the state.

At Ward 6, Unit 2, where the South South Zonal Vice Chairman of PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, voted, the machine also broke down.

Dr. Ojougboh, who confirmed the floodgates of complaints that have reached him on the problem, however, urged his constituents to be patient with the commission.

He said: “It is an experimental process. There has been no pilot programme for this before. So, our people should be patient with INEC to get the best of the exercise. I must confess to you that I have received a lot of complaints about the performance of the Card Reader.”

Crisis however broke out at Owa-Oyibu in Ika North East Local Government Area of the state when two factional groups clashed allegedly over their preferred candidates for the elections.

The remote cause of the fracas, which sent panic across the polling units and forced voters to scamper for safety before a detachment of police troops were deployed to the troubled zone to quell the crisis, could not be immediately ascertained.

But Okowa, who voted at about 2.30pm at Owa-Ailero, lamented that the slow pace of the exercise has the capacity to reduce the number of votes and create what he tagged error of margin.

He said: “A situation where 20 to 40 per cent of the voters need to fill the Incident Form has called the effectiveness of the machine into question.”

He was however optimistic that his party will coast to victory.