TAF Africa has said “Out of the 90 observers deployed in 90 polling units with registered persons with disabilities across the three off-cycle states, it was reported by our observers that 80% of Persons with Disabilities were allowed to exercise their priority voting rights in Kogi State, 75% in Imo State and 67% in Bayelsa State.”
CEO/Founder, Amb. Jake Epelle disclosed this in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital during it’s midday press briefing to evaluate the compliance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the provision of assistive tools, as mandated by the Electoral Act, and gauging the overall experience of voters with disabilities at the polls.
“As part of our commitment to promoting disability inclusion in electoral processes, TAF Africa deployed a total of 90 trained observers across polling units with registered Persons with Disabilities in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states.
“As we reach the mid-point of the day, TAF Africa presents its findings from observers in the field, transmitted to TAF Africa’s persons with disabilities election hub through our innovative Election Observer App and dashboard.” he said
In Kogi state, 94% of the thirty polling units show that INEC officials arrived earlier than 8.30 am designated for accreditation and voting to commence. In Imo state 99% of the thirty polling units registered persons with disabilities display that INEC officials arrived before 8:30 am, while in Bayelsa state, INEC officials arrived earlier than 8:30 am at a percentage of 77% out of the thirty polling units observed.
In Imo state, 58% of the polling units observed commenced accreditation and voting at 8:30 am, In Kogi state 78% of the polling units commenced voting between 8:30 and 9:00 am, while in Bayelsa state, 54% of the polling units commenced voting between 8:30 am and 9:00 am.
Epelle said assistive tools such as braille ballot guide, EC30E PWD POSTERS, and Magnifying Glass were reported to have been deployed in 77% of the thirty polling units we deployed observers in Kogi state. It was deployed at 67% in Bayelsa State while in Imo state, assistive tools were deployed at a percentage of 55 out of the 30 polling units.
He noted that as of 9:37 am in Primary school Amawo, Atta 1, Ikeduru LGA in Imo state, there was a heated disagreement and near violence scene between party agents due to public canvassing of votes and vote buying. So far, no polling unit with registered persons with disabilities has reported any major case of violence.
“We appeal to Political parties to stick to their commitment to a peaceful election and work to prevent their supporters from engaging in violence.
“We commend the community of persons with disabilities for their show of strength and commitment toward this election, despite the incidences that occurred during the 2023 general elections. We also call on persons with disabilities who have not voted to go to their registered polling unit to exercise their civic rights in a peaceful and orderly way.
“It is necessary to mention that TAF Africa’s initial findings are based on reports from Ninety (90) sampled polling units with registered persons with disabilities across the three off-cycle states and analyzed at 1:00 pm today. As the events of the day continue to unfold, additional information and updates will be provided subsequently on our social media platforms.”she stressed.
“TAF Africa will continue to observe the conduct of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections as it affects the participation of persons with disabilities. Our observers will remain at the polls until voting is completed and votes are counted.
“We call on Security agencies, the independent national electoral commission, stakeholders, political parties, and their ardent supporters to work together in ensuring that this election is credible and remains peaceful.
“TAF Africa will issue a comprehensive statement on the participation of persons with disabilities at the polls on Sunday, 12th November 2023 at noon in the PWD election hub.” Epelle said.