The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa State has confirmed that a boat carrying election personnel capsized on Friday, 10th November 2023.
The incident occurred while the boat was transporting personnel to Registration Area-17 (Koluama) in Southern Ijaw LGA.
All the election personnel numbering 12 and the boat operator were rescued, but INEC lost its result sheets, power banks and luggage containing personal effects of staff.
A total of 5368 people are registered to vote in the affected Registration Area, and 5311 PVCs have been collected. INEC is making efforts to ensure that the election can still be conducted in the area.
INEC also reports that its Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO) assigned to Registration Area-06 (Ossioma) in Sagbama LGA was abducted while waiting to board a boat at Amassoma Jetty. The security agencies have been notified.
The Bayelsa governorship election is taking place on Saturday, 11th November 2023. It is one of three off-cycle governorship elections taking place in Nigeria on the same day.
The elections are being closely watched as a test of Nigeria’s democracy, and there have been concerns about the potential for violence and electoral fraud.
The capsizing of the INEC boat and the abduction of the SPO are concerning developments. INEC has assured Nigerians that it is committed to conducting a free, fair and credible election, but these incidents raise questions about the security of the electoral process.
The security agencies must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of election personnel and voters on Election Day.