BVAS machine failure: How angry voters battered INEC ad-hoc staff in Lagos
A National Youth Corps member, Jamiu Aremu, who was part of the ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Lagos State, has lamented over the brutality he suffered at the hands of voters protesting against the failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System to upload results during the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in the state.
Aremu, while narrating his ordeal to PUNCH Metro, said the encounter left him with swollen and bruised lips and bloodied eyes, among others.
It was learnt that Aremu, alongside other INEC ad hoc staff, were attending to votes at Polling Unit 082 in the Okota area of the state when they experienced difficulties in using the BVAS machine to upload the results.
In a bid to ensure transparency in the electoral process, the corps member said he asked party agents at the polling unit to follow him to the INEC office where he could get an alternative means to upload the results.
Noting that the party agents did not oppose the suggestion, Aremu said the voters protested against the suggestion and accused him of attempting to use the claim on the faulty BVAS to manipulate the outcome of the results.
He, however, noted that the angry voters descended on him as he and his colleagues attempted to leave the polling unit for the INEC office.
Aremu said, “At the end of the voting, I calculated the votes and I gave the party agents their copies of the result. The situation then became tense when we wanted to start uploading the results. I don’t know what happened to the BVAS machine, but it was complaining about the camera quality.
“This happened around 9pm and I assumed that it was because it was dark. So, I told them I could not upload the results and suggested that the agents should follow me to our centre so that we can get it done over there.
“Immediately I made the announcement, I left with my two other colleagues to join the bus. My colleagues thought I had joined the other bus but some of the voters cornered me and insisted that I must upload the result. I tried to call the military officers that accompanied us but they could not hear me as they also left with the buses.
“At that point, some people started slapping me; they collected my two phones and prevented me from calling for help. They also accused me of collecting N13m to claim that the machine was faulty.”
Aremu said the angry voter took him to a dark spot away from the polling unit to brutalise him, adding that it took the intervention of some policemen who stormed the premises to rescue him from the mob.
He added, “When the policemen arrived, they fired two shots and the people dispersed. That was how they were able to rescue me. It was not too long before the military men also came and that was how the police handed me over to them. They were the ones that took me to the INEC office in Oshodi Local Government secretariat.
“When I got there, I was told to go and treat myself and bring the medical bill. My face was swollen with a bloodied eye. I could not sleep that night as my body was aching. The following day, I went to a private hospital to treat myself but the INEC officials told me to get myself treated in a government hospital. When I eventually got there, I was told to get a police report which I did yesterday.”
The spokesperson for INEC in the state, Nike Oriowo, said the case was reported to the commission.
She said, “The Electoral Officer in Oshodi/Isolo Local Government said the corps member was attended to and given rendered support. She also informed him to come to the office on Friday.
“We told our officers during a meeting on Wednesday to look into the wellbeing of the corps members that were involved in the exercise. We will not allow any one of them who were maltreated to be left unattended. According to the electoral officer, the police have started investigating the incident.”
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, could not be reached for comment as calls made to his number were not answered.
He had yet to reply to a text message sent to his mobile number as of the time of filing this report.