We Witnessed Underage Girls Voting In Kaduna, Kwara States –Women Lawyers, FIDA

International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has stated in its election monitoring report that its observers confirmed cases of underage girls being made to vote in Saturday’s general elections in two Nigerian States, Kaduna and Kwara.

In FIDA’s preliminary statement on women’s participation in the presidential and national assembly elections, obtained by Information Nigeria on Saturday and signed by Amina Agbaje, FIDA National President, the cases of female underage voting were confirmed in “polling unit 003, Ward 1, Zaria LGA” and “polling unit 006, Ijabo ward, Oyun LGA, Kwara State.”

FIDA Nigeria, in the situation room in Abuja, monitored the elections in Borno, Plateau, Kaduna and Kwara states, with support from United Nations Women and the Government of Canada under the Advance Women Political Participation Project.

“An election monitoring tool was administered by our accredited observers at their respective polling units while leveraging on partnerships with other civil society actors in observing, documenting, and reporting women participation and incidences of violence perpetrated against women.

“FIDA Nigeria continues to closely watch the process across the 66 Local Government Areas under our observatory process until it is concluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).The following issues are highlighted as part of our preliminary report:

“FIDA Nigeria observed a large turnout of female voters in about 66.2% of the polling units observed. in polling unit 006, ward 2, Kaiama LGA, Kwara State. In Unit 007, Ward 2, Mafa LGA, Borno State, Women were observed in good numbers exercising their franchise.

“In 94.4% of the polling units visited, we observed no incidence of underage voting by Females. However, in 5.6% of polling units observed, underage voting was witnessed. For instance, in polling unit 003, Ward 1, Zaria LGA, young girls were observed clearly below the stipulated age voting. In polling unit 006, Ijabo ward, Oyun LGA, Kwara State, a similar occurrence occurred.

“FIDA Nigeria observes that women with disabilities, the elderly/Aged, pregnant women and Nursing mothers were prioritized in the voting process by INEC Adhoc Officials. Our Observers reported that in about 85.9% of the polling units, priority voting occurred, however in 14.1% of the polling units, these groups were compelled to join existing queues towards exercising their franchise.

“For instance at Polling Unit 001, Magajin Gari, Jema”a LGA, Kaduna State, priority voting was not observed as elderly Women were not given special considerations. However, at polling units 002 & 003, Ward 7 Igabi LGA, an aged woman was observed given priority.

“In Plateau at polling unit 001, Kitago in Bassa LGA, elderly and pregnant women were observed provided a separate voting priority queue, similarly in Polling unit 005, RCM Primary School, Qua’an Pan LGA, the elderly and pregnant women also have a separate voting priority queue. At polling unit 002, Ward 6 Langtang North, women with disabilities are given priority voting, while at Mafa LGA Polling unit 007, Ward 2, Borno State older women, nursing mothers, remaining women were prioritised.

“FIDA Nigeria has observed that across most polling units within our purview, the bimodal voter’s accreditation system was largely functional which aided accreditation and the voting process. In 91.5% of polling units visited, the BVAS Machine was highly functional, however in 8.5% of the polling units observed experienced technical difficulty which limited women participation.

“FIDA Nigeria observed a few disturbing incidents of vote trading across 1.6% of the polling units. However, 98.6% witnessed no incidences of vote trading in the polling units observed especially as our observers reported that these polling units were to have witnessed voting inducements. We will update the media as we receive further information from our deployed observers.”

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