By Nwafor Okafor
Yiaga Africa, an election watch group, has said about 76,104 voters in six Local Government Areas of Anambra state risk disenfranchisement in next Saturday’s governorship election .
The group said voters who got registered during the Continuous Voters Registration in the state amounting to about 76,000 could be disenfranchised because of delay in getting their voter’s cards from the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Yiaga deputy board chairman, Eznwa Nwagwu explained that the findings followed its Watch the Vote pre-election observation.
He listed violations of the electoral code of conduct, election violence threats and volatility of the state resulting from the secessionist group’s threat to shut down the region from November 5 as some factors that would adversely affect the poll.
He said, “We commend INEC on its efforts to distribute permanent voters cards from previous registration exercises.
“However, Yiaga Africa is worried that, with less than a week to the elections, the Commission is yet to commence distribution of Permanent Voters Card to the 76,104 new eligible voters who recently got registered during the Continuous Voters Registration in the state.
“While there were distributions of PVCs in 16 local government areas, there was no record of distribution of PVCs in Anambra East, Aguata, Idemili North, Dunukofia and Onitsha South local government areas.
Speaking, Yiaga director of programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu said, “There were also reports of physical attacks during political parties’ campaign rallies in Ihiala and Nnewi local government areas. Assailants attacked candidate and supporters of APGA during the party’s rally in Ihiala where one person was shot in the leg.
“Also in Anambra East and Ihiala local government areas, Yiaga Africa’s observers reported “excessive use of force and intimidation by security forces (military personnel)” on people.”
While commending INEC for ensuring free, fair and credible poll, Yiaga called for more consistent and harmonious coordination within the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to forestall violence incidences and ensure safety of voters and poll officials.
“As a matter of urgency, INEC should collaborate with Civil Society Organizations, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other relevant stakeholders to amplify and intensify voter education and inspire confidence in voters across the state.
“Security agencies should ensure their personnel are adequately trained on election security before they are deployed for the election while deploying monitoring mechanisms to checkmate and curtail personnel excesses.”