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ADAMAWA ELECTION: UNDERAGED CAST VOTES, ALLEGES NBA

By NBF News

The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has alleged that underaged persons cast votes during the gubernatorial election in Adamawa State last Saturday. In a statement, signed by Dafe Akpedeye (SAN) and Festus Okoye, chairman and alternate chairman respectively of the NBA Election Working Group (NBA/EWG) on the conduct of the election in Adamawa State entitled: A peaceful and orderly election, the NBA commended political stakeholders in the state for their conduct before, during and after the election which made the conduct of the election successful.

The association, however, asked Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hasten the process of constituency delineation as most polling units were not manageable during the election due to large turnout of voters in such places.

The body also asked the INEC to prosecute some of its staff and ad-hoc staff involved in the last Saturday's governorship election in Adamawa State for disrupting the work of election observers during the elections.

The NBA also asked for an amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act to give electoral officers the power to shift polling units, pointing out that some polling units were still located in private residences instead of public places.

According to the statement, 'there were cases of underaged voting in some of the polling units visited. The voting by these groups of persons did not elicit any adverse reaction from some of the adults and eligible voters in the polling units thereby giving the phenomenon a stamp of acceptability.

'Some communities have by their conduct legitimized underaged voting thereby making it look like an acceptable electoral conduct by persons that are not of voting age and assisting to compromise the integrity of the electoral process and in the process institutionalize the culture of disobedience to law and due process.

'One overzealous staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the ad-hoc staff constituted themselves into a police force and engaged in the arrest of some observers without authorization'.

However, the NBA recommended that, 'the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended should be further amended to give presiding officers the discretion to create a separate queue for senior citizens. Some senior citizens had a hectic time coping with younger elements on the queue.

'The Independent National Electoral Commission should accelerate the process of constituency delineation. Some of the polling units in Adamawa State are located in front of or too close to people's houses despite the availability of public schools and public places near such houses.

'The location of some of these polling units in front of people's houses and or too near to people's houses does not make for secrecy of the votes and independent electoral action by the voters. It is important to move such polling stations away from people's houses and awkward locations to schools and public places.'

Meanwhile, the NBA/EWG had commended the security agencies for their professionalism and civic engagement with the electoral process, adding that the performance and dedication of the security agencies assisted in reducing tension and threats of breakdown of law and order during the election.