The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received praise from the Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVA-PWD) for not postponing the elections despite the country’s immense problems.
Comrade David Anyaele, the Chairman of EVA-PWD, said in a statement on Tuesday in Enugu that it was encouraging that the lack of naira notes and fuel did not prevent the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Anyaele stated that EVA-PWD was pleased to see that marginalised groups, such as the elderly, nursing mothers, pregnant women, and people with disabilities, were given priority voting in the majority of polling places that they observed during the election on Saturday.
”We commend polling officials and the electorates for their efforts in this regard.”
He said that EVA-PWD observed that a significant number of polling units observed were accessible to persons with physical disabilities within the six geopolitical zones.
He noted the accessibility of these polling units was made possible due to the location of the polling unit by INEC along the roadside, open field, play grounds.
The chairman also noted that INEC staff enhanced the accessibility even as they dropped the ballot boxes on the floor, whilst a good number of other polling units were placed in buildings with access for those on wheelchairs.
“Whereas, EVA-PWD is disturbed that a significant number of polling units observed were not accessible, as they were placed across gutters or in schools, public buildings with steps and high pavements.
“What this means is that voters with physical disabilities would be scared to go to this hard to access environments to cast their votes.
“EVA-PWD observers observed that the deployment of braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses were invisible at the polling units visited, as only two polling units recorded availability of these items.
“These polling units are polling unit 05, Ward 3 Naragatu Hausawa, Jos North LGA of Plateau State; and polling unit 2, Ward 5, Ado Ekiti LGA, Ekiti State; and polling unit 3, Ward 1 Odoak People, Onitsha South, Anambra State.
“Observers saw the availability of canopies which would support persons with albinism at polling unit 03, Ward 01 Iweku, Eti Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State,” he said.
Anyaele said that EVA-PWD observers noted that form EC40H was also scarce at the polling units, “as the knowledge of INEC ad-hoc staff around the use of this document is poor”.
He explained that the form EC40H was used by INEC to document the number of voters with disabilities that voted at a particular polling unit, ward, LGA, state and across the federation.
“However, our observers found that the visibility of voting guides for the deaf voters in a significant number of the polling units visited in Lagos State.
“EVA-PWD is pleased with the level of security so far provided by the security agencies, notwithstanding the reports of disruption of voting in some polling units in states, including Enugu, Kogi, Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Imo and Lagos.
“That of violence in Rivers State as reported by partner organisation (Situation Room) is a question mark on the part of security agencies deployed to provide election security,” he said. (NAN)