YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Press Statement on Set-Up of Polling Units


This morning, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 3,906 observers throughout the country to every state and all 774 local government areas (LGAs). This is inclusive of the 3,030 parallel vote tabulation (PVT) observers deployed in pairs to a random, representative statistical sample of 1,515 polling units. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to independently verify the accuracy of the official presidential election results when they are announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This statement builds on findings from YIAGA AFRICA’s Mid-Day Situational Statement released at 12:00 pm 23 February 2019, which principally noted widespread late opening of polling units throughout the country.

Watching the Vote Polling Unit Set-Up Findings

This report update on Polling Unit Setup contains initial findings as at 2:00 pm on election day, with complete reports received from 1,127 of the 1,515 sampled polling units. The following data will be updated as additional reports are received from WTV observers at sampled polling units. What follows is a systematic information on the setup of polling units:

  1. 83% of polling units had four or more polling officials present. 21% of polling units had no female polling officials present, 31% of polling units had one female polling official present, 31% of polling units had two female polling officials present, 13% of polling units had three female polling officials present and 4% of polling units had four female polling officials present.
  2. In addition, 90% of polling units recorded presence of security personnel.
  3. Smart Card Readers were present in 99% of polling units. Moreover, polling officials in 94% of polling units adhered to new INEC guidelines to demonstrate that no voters had been accredited by the Smart Card Reader at the time of opening. As at 12:00 noon, WTV Observers reported that the Smart Card Reader was functioning and in use in 96% of polling units.
  4. According to tally sheet data collected by WTV Observers deployed to track the process of accreditation for each voter in the sampled polling units, the Smart Card Reader both authenticated the fingerprints and read the Permanent Voters Card of approximately five out of ten voters, the Smart Card Reader read the Permanent Voters Card (but did not authenticate the fingerprints) of approximately four out of ten voters, and approximately one in ten voters were either permitted to vote without use of the Smart Card Reader or were not permitted to vote.
  5. All essential materials (register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, presidential ballot box and polling unit booklet) were present in 86% of polling units. 100% of polling units had a register of voters, 96% of polling units had indelible ink/marker pen, 99% of polling units had an official stamp, 94% of polling units had a voting cubicle, 98% of polling units had an ink pad in the voting cubicle and 99% of polling units had a polling unit booklet.
  6. ADC party agents were seen at 23% of polling units, APC party agents were seen at 98% of polling units, PDP at 99% of polling units, and SDP at 23% of polling units.
  7. 93% of polling units were set up to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.
  8. 46% of polling units had Braille ballot guides to accommodate voters with visual disabilities, while PWD Poster EC.30E with written instructions for voters with hearing impairments was posted in 81% of polling units.
  9. As at 12 pm, YIAGA AFRICA WTV Observers reported that INEC polling officials had conducted themselves professionally and in a non-partisan manner in 95% of polling units while deployed security agents had conducted themselves in a professional and non-partisan manner in 90% of polling units.
  10. As at 12 pm, YIAGA AFRICA WTV Observers reported that political party agents had attempted to influence voters or INEC poll officials in 13% of polling units.

Critical Incidents

  1. Snatching of Election materials: YIAGA AFRICA received reports of snatching of election materials in the following locations;
    1. Armed men snatched ballot boxes and election materials at PU 003 ward 1 of Emohuma LGA, Rivers
    2. Snatching of ballot materials in PU 014, Ward 09, Agookota Oshodi/Isho LGA, in Lagos State
    3. Snatching of ballot box in PU 011,Ward 24, PU 002 Ward 20 in Sulurele LGA, Lagos state
    4. Snatching of Ballot box in PU 009, ward 05, Ilaje LGA, Ondo state
  2. Intimidation, Assault and harassment were observed in the following locations:
  3. Intimidation was reported PU 011,Ward 24, PU 002 Ward 20 in Sulurele LGA, Lagos state
  4. Massive harassment of voters by thugs in PU 015, Ward 07, Doguwa LGA, Kano state
  5. YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers were beaten at PU 005, ward 07, Obgaru, Anambra state. Materials were reported to be destroyed as well.
  6. Physical attack of INEC officials and WTV observers in PU 002, ward 05 of Dekina LGA, Kogi state.

Vote buying 

Vote buying was reported in PU 005, ward 01 in Tai LGA of Rivers state, PU 005, ward 02, Idah  LGA of Kogi state.

  • Destruction of election material in PU 005, Adumu Egume ward of Dekina LGA, Kogi state
  • Missing materials: Election material were missing in the morning in Ngorokpala LGA of Imo state, which led to no election in ward 06, 10, and 11. Upon investigation the SPO and EO were discovered to be involved in the process and were arrested by the police. This was confirmed by INEC officials in the State.
  • Killings: Unknown gunmen shot a young boy at the point of snatching ballot boxed in PU 006, Ajetachi ward of Ayingba Dekina LGA, Kogi state.

In view of the foregoing, YIAGA AFRICA WTV makes the following preliminary recommendations:

Preliminary Recommendations

  1. Procedures for Polling Units Not Open by 2 pm: YIAGA AFRICA commends INEC on its extension of voting hours in line with our earlier recommendation. YIAGA AFRICA notes, however, that – as at 2:00 pm – polling units in some parts of the country were still not open. YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to provide clear guidelines and directives on the fate of voters in polling units where elections did not start as at 2:00pm. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates its earlier recommendation that INEC take all necessary steps to ensure that voters are enfranchised.
  2. Accreditation: YIAGA AFRICA views positively tally data gathered from WTV Observers suggesting that the Smart Card Reader has either authenticated both the Permanent Voters Card and fingerprints or the Permanent Voters Card of approximately 9 in 10 voters in sampled polling units. YIAGA AFRICA again calls on INEC to continue to ensure that polling officials strictly adhere to the electoral guidelines on accreditation and voting across board – including proper use of the Smart Card Reader – even as voting may continue until late afternoon or evening.
  3. Conduct of Political Party Agents: YIAGA AFRICA urges deployed political party agents to remain until the conclusion of voting and counting and to conduct themselves professionally at the polling units. Party leadership should take action to appropriately sanction agents found to be unduly influencing voters or poll officials while deployed.
  4. Security Agents: YIAGA AFRICA calls on all deployed security agents to provide speedy response to critical incidents especially the reports of violent disruption of the process and destruction of election materials in some polling units.  We also encourage the security personnel to remain professional and non-partisan while on duty.
  5. Accessibility of Polling Units: YIAGA AFRICA commends INEC for integrating innovations into the electoral process – notably the Braille ballot guide and PWD poster EC.30E – that are designed to enhance polling unit accessibility for persons with disability. YIAGA AFRICA encourages INEC to further mainstream these innovations for future elections so that they can be made more widely available to voters with disability throughout the country.
  6. Accessibility to Collation Centres: YIAGA AFRICA calls on both INEC and Security personnel to facilitate access of accredited observers, media and party agents to the collation centres.


By Sunday morning, YIAGA AFRICA will be able to provide statistically valid data about the conduct of the election in the entire country — from the opening of polling units through accreditation and voting and the posting of results – and will be able to project the vote shares that each candidate should receive within a narrow range. If the official results fall within YIAGA AFRICA’s estimated ranges, then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence in the ballots cast at the polling units.

YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, presidential candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information about whether the official results for the 23 February 2019 presidential election truly reflect the ballots cast at polling units. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!

YIAGA AFRICA reiterates its earlier calls to voters to remain patient and vigilant to ensure their votes count and to INEC to swiftly redress logistical challenges as well as provide regular, timely communication around any adjustments to the election procedures related to the delayed opening of polling units this morning. Watching The Vote will observe the process until the end. Our observers will remain at polling units until accreditation, voting, and counting are completed and the official results have been announced and posted by the polling officials. YIAGA AFRICA will issue additional updates as appropriate and intends to issue a preliminary statement on the conduct of accreditation, voting and counting on Sunday 27 February at 11:30 am in the Watching the Vote National Data Center at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

Dr. Hussaini Abdu


Samson Itodo

Executive Director

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah
Communication Officer
Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339
Email: misah@yiaga.org

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

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