The Campaign for Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWDs), has commended INEC for providing Brailles, Magnifying glasses and other devices for PWDs in the Osun governorship election.
Mr David Anyaele, Chairman of EVAPWD, made the commendation in a preliminary statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Anyaele also commended INEC for the priority-voting given to elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers and PWDs and the significant number of accessible polling units provided by INEC.
“We received and reviewed reports from our observers across the three senatorial zones of the election management compliance to the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act.
“Section 54 of the Electoral Act 2022 on INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities and the Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended.
“EVAPWDs is impressed to observe that marginalised populations, the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women and persons with disabilities were offered priority voting in most of the polling units observed.
“Our observation shows that INEC sited a significant number of PUs along the roadside and dropped the ballot boxes on the floor, whilst a good number of other PUs were sited in buildings with access for those on wheelchairs.
“”We commend polling officials for their efforts in this regard,” he said.
The groups chairman said that it observed the deployment of Braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses in a significant number of the PUs visited.
This, he said, was commendable as INEC had made observable improvement in this regard, however, he called for training of its ad-hoc staff on the use of form EC40H.
According to him, the form EC40H is readily available, but the knowledge of INEC ad-hoc staff around the use of this document remains weak, even as voting guides for the deaf in a significant number of the PUs were not seen
He expressed dissatisfaction also that quite a significant number of polling units were not accessible because they were sited across gutters or in schools with staircases and high pavements.
He said notably, PU 9, Ward 3 in Boripe LGA were not accessible for the physically challenged as they were too high and filled with steps and grasses.
“Also, in PU 4, Ward 10, Ede South LGA, PU 8, Ward 5, Ede South, PU 8, Ward 10 in Odo- Otin, and PU 5, Ward in Osogbo were sited across gutters.
“Also not accessible is PU 2, Ward 9, and its environs in Aiyedire LGA were sited across gutters or in schools with steps and high pavements.
“And what this means is that voters with physical disability will struggle much more to cast their votes,’ he said.
He commended the commission for the early arrival of its officials and lauded the good voter turnout at the various polling units it observed across the state.
He also lauded the adequately provided security at the polls and approachability of the security personnel.
Anyaele said the group was still observing the election exercise and would issue a post election statement, analyzing the general conduct of INEC for persons with disabilities’ participation