By Anita Osagiede/Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Feb. 13, 2023
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the forthcoming general election will not hold in 240 Polling Units (PUs) across 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for not having any registered voters.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at a meeting with the national leaders of political parties in Abuja on Monday, said that the February and March election would now hold in 176,606 PUs instead of 176,846 PUs nationwide.
Yakubu recalled that in 2021 the commission successfully expanded the number of polling units from 119,973 to the current figure of 176,846.
He said that efforts were also made to redistribute voters to the polling units in order to avoid the congestion that made voting cumbersome in many of the PUs nationwide.
“This requires the redistribution of voters to new polling units in proximate locations. Where they are separated by distance, this must be done after consultation with the voters.
“This has been done by our State offices nationwide. However, there are 240 polling units without registered voters spread across 28 States and the FCT.
“They range from one polling unit to 12 polling units in each State and the FCT, except Taraba and Imo States with 34 and 38 polling units respectively.
“No new registrants chose the polling units and no voters indicated interest to transfer to them during the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), mainly for security reasons. This means that no elections will hold in these polling units,’’ he said.
Yakubu said that in INEC commitment to transparency, the commission was making available to Nigerians a comprehensive list of those polling units by name, code number and their locations by State, Local Government and Registration Area.
He said that the soft copy of the list had been uploaded on INEC website and social media platforms for public information and guidance.
The INEC chairman also advised registered voters to visit the commission’s website to confirm the locations of their polling units.
He said that from the feedback INEC received from the recent nationwide mock accreditation using the Bimodal Voters Verification System (BVAS), it was clear that some voters cannot not easily identify their PUs.
“Consequently, the Commission is advising voters to confirm the locations of their polling units through a dedicated portal on our website.
“In addition, all voters who have been assigned to new polling units will receive text messages from the Commission indicating their polling units.
“We have also compiled the register of such voters and our State offices will give it wide publicity, especially for those who may not have provided their telephone numbers during voter registration or those whose numbers may have changed.’’
Yakubu said voters could locate and confirm their polling units before election day by sending a regular text or WhatsApp message to a dedicated telephone number.
He added that details of the simple procedure would be uploaded on INEC social media platforms shortly.
Yakubu also disclosed that INEC was finalising the issuance of 1,642,386 identification tags for the polling and collation agents nominated by the 18 political parties made up of 1,574,301 polling agents and 68,085 collation agents.
He urged political parties to ensure that only agents accredited by INEC and wearing the correct identification tags appear at polling units and collation centres during elections.
“A situation where two or more agents claim to represent a political party, resulting in commotion at polling units or collation centres, is unacceptable.
“Only identification tags issued by the commission will be recognised on election day and violators are liable to arrest and prosecution for impersonation,’’ Yakubu said.
On the ongoing electioneering campaigns, he expressed INEC concerns about violent attacks on supporters of political parties across the board, resulting in the loss of life in some cases.
Yakubu appealed to leaders of political parties to continue to call their candidates and supporters to order.
“I also call on the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to arrest, investigate and prosecute anyone involved in violent conduct, including incendiary statements capable of inciting a breach of the peace.’’
In his remarks, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr. Yabagi Sani, appealed to INEC that under no circumstances should the general election be postponed.
Sani, who reaffirmed the council’s confidence in the leadership of INEC for its consistent demonstration of diligence, urged the commission to make the general election credible.
The IPAC national chairman also commended INEC efforts in confronting the extraordinary environmental challenges occasioned by naira redesign and fuel scarcity through the Chairman’s visit to the relevant agencies.
“I therefore call on all Nigerians of good conscience to take credible results of the election the way it is.
“At worse parties should resort to the law court for adjudication Today it is an abhorrence and crudity if not savagery to see States Governors denying campaign venues to political parties other than their own. This is crude, primitive and uncivilized.
“Finally, I would want to admonish party leaders that having observed that the elections are conducted free, fair and credible; the result should be accepted for the love of our country,’’ Sani said.