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As the governorship election begins across 18 local government areas in Edo State on Saturday, observers from TheCable and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) have reported varying levels of compliance with voting and COVID-19 protocols.
Accreditation of voters and voting started on schedule about 8:30am.
At ward four, polling unit 19 in Oredo local government area, TheCable observed that the exercise was peaceful and devoid of harassment.
SATURDAY FLAKES reports that at the entrance to the same polling unit, face masks and hand-washing materials were dispensed to voters, though social distancing was not observed.
Across the state, police officers and other security agents were stationed at each polling booth in the polling units, and by 8am voting had kicked off in some units.
From the field reports, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and voters at polling unit eight, ward two, Okpan area in Ovia south-west in Benin, the Edo capital, were seen violating COVID-19 protocol.
Most of them were seen shaking hands with security agents drafted to the polling unit.
Also, at Idumowu primary school, ward six, polling unit one in Igueben Local Government Area, there was no adherence to COVID-19 protocol as voters checked for their names before voting commenced in the area.
At ward one, polling unit 003, in Afuze, Owan East Local Government Area, voters were seen waiting for the commencement of the exercise while openly flouting COVID-19 guidelines.
But at ward five, unit five, Esan Central, TheCable observed that COVID-19 protocol was strictly followed.
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At Egor Local Government Area, Uselu II, ward eight, polling unit 003, INEC officials were seen displaying the voter list, while some persons complained that their names were not on it.
SATURDAY FLAKES gathered that at polling unit eight, ward two of Okpon area in Ovia South-West, Benin, voters were seen discreetly exchanging their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) for money with party agents.
A man wearing a party identification card was seen exchanging N1,000 for an elderly lady’s PVC. The dark-skinned man, who wore a black t-shirt did the same thing with about three other voters — but discreetly and carefully before he moved away to another direction.
In the same polling unit, TheCable observed that a child of less than 14 years had a voter card which he exchanged for N1,000.
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