Nigeria election: A day after polls closed, voting was still taking place
How do you vote for over 93 million voters? With great difficulty, headaches, delays and technical issues, it turns out.
More than 24 hours after the polls closed, some Nigerians were still voting in Africa’s biggest democratic exercise.
The numbers are staggering; There are 176,606 polling units in Nigeria and voting passed without incident in most of them.
However, it was overshadowed by delays at some polling stations, technical issues, and widespread reports of attacks and voter intimidation.
A CNN team in Lagos saw voters still trying to find a way to cast their ballots Sunday at a school in Lagos where two polling units did not receive votes in Saturday’s election.
In the capital Abuja, voting continued late on Saturday, as voters used car headlights to help see themselves.
When a CNN team visited some polling units, dozens of voters were still waiting to cast their ballots. In some parts of Lagos, voting went on well past midnight.
The election is one of the most hotly contested since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999, and the two-party system that has dominated Nigerian politics since then faces an unprecedented threat.
The frontrunners are Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC party, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the lesser known Labor Party.
Obi, 61, has gained popularity and is seen as a third force candidate who could emerge as leader.
Many of his supporters, mostly first-time voters who registered to vote in large numbers, complained of attempts to suppress their vote.
Several people were attacked at a polling unit in Lekki, Lagos.
Dr. Chidi Nwagwu told CNN: “I arrived at 10 in the morning. The polling material was late and we got ready to start voting. Some thugs came and started beating people with chairs. I was hit with a chair several times. There was a doctor who helped us. Many women including a pregnant woman were attacked. He was knocked to the ground and they smashed his phone.”
Alicia Gaberikan said: “There was harassment and it was an offense if you had a phone. People were beaten up and their phones were broken. It was very scary.”
Yiaga Africa, a non-profit citizens’ group that has deployed 3,836 monitors across the country, said it was disappointed by the election. “There is a sense of disappointment, quite frankly, with the way this process has gone. Clearly, we have not consistently addressed and resolved our logistical challenges with the elections,” Samson Itodo, Yayaga’s executive director, told CNN.
This was supposed to be the year the Election Commission would provide real-time results through its new portal, iReV.
Yiaga said it was a concern that by 10pm local time on Saturday, when the results from thousands of polling units were known, they had not been uploaded to the Election Commission’s voting portal.
“It raises a lot of questions about the entire process as it deviates from the guidelines for elections. But it also casts doubt on the integrity of this whole process,” Itodo said.
“To make matters worse, the commission is not speaking up or talking to Nigerians.”
Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmud Yakubu briefly addressed the nation in a media briefing on Sunday where he explained the consolidation process but did not address issues surrounding the transmission of the results.
Yakubu said there were pockets of violence across the country and that the election machines known as the Bimodal Voter Recognition System (BVAS) were lost in some of these disruptions.