Less than 12 days to the general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that election will not hold in 240 polling units across 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this during a meeting with political parties on Monday.
Yakubu stated that no voters indicated interest to transfer to those units them during the last Continuous Voter Registration due to insecurity, hence the total polling units for elections is now 176,606.
He noted that the Commission would make a comprehensive list of these polling units.
The INEC Chairman explained, “Let me therefore start with the issue of polling units. You may recall that in 2021, with your support and that of other critical stakeholders, the Commission successfully expanded voter access to polling units 25 years after the last delimitation exercise in 1996. Consequently, the number of polling units increased from 119,973 to the current figure of 176,846.
“At previous meetings, we also briefed you on our efforts to redistribute voters to the polling units in order to avoid the congestion that made voting cumbersome in many of them 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, mainly for security reasons. This means that no elections will hold in these polling units.
“In our avowed commitment to transparency, the Commission is making available to Nigerians a comprehensive list of these polling units by name, code number and their locations by state, local government and registration Area. With this development, the number of polling units where elections will hold nationwide on February 25, 2023 and March 11, 2023 is now 176,606. Hard copies of the list are included in your folders for this meeting. Above all, Nigerians deserve the right to know the locations of these polling units. Accordingly, the soft copy of the list has been uploaded to our website and social media platforms for public information and guidance. ”
Yakubu added that observations from the just concluded mock exercise showed that registered voters could not identify their polling units, advising voters to confirm the locations of their polling units through a dedicated portal on our website.
He said “Closely related to the distribution of voters is the identification of polling units. From the feedback we received from our officials and accredited observers following the recent nationwide mock accreditation using the BVAS, it is clear that some voters could not easily identify their polling units. This should not happen on election day. 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. Voters can locate and confirm their polling units before election day by sending a regular text or WhatsApp message to a dedicated telephone number. Details of the simple procedure will be uploaded to our social media platforms shortly.
“As you are already aware, we have less than two weeks to the 2023 general election. The Commission is 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. I urge the Chairmen and leaders of political parties to ensure that only agents accredited by the Commission 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.”
Turning to the ongoing electioneering campaigns, Yakubu stated that “the Commission is concerned about violent attacks on supporters of political parties across the board, resulting in the loss of life in some cases.
“Let me once again appeal to Chairman and leaders of political parties to continue to call your 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.”
Speaking at the meeting, the National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Committee, Yabagi Sani applauded the Commission for the success of the mock accreditation, adding that the Commission should live up to expectations.
Sani advised INEC not to postpone the elections, urging Nigerians to accept election results in good fate.
He said, “By what we hear and read in the news, your mock accreditation exercise was a success. That is very encouraging. As we know, a mock examination cannot be taken to be the real examination whose coverage is wider and complex. So far, the BVAS that were used were reported to have performed perfectly. We are encouraged by this and also wish to appreciate INEC while expecting them to keep the flag of perfection flying.
“The 2023 general election seemingly will be a watershed in the history of elections in Nigeria. Today, the tide has changed, because an unknown Party could pull a surprise to the greatest chagrin of all. From this point of view, it is necessary to advise INEC to keep its date with history which must not be wasted.
“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 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 uncivilised.
“Mr. Chairman, under no circumstance should this election be postponed! Having noted this, I wish to congratulate all the parties for patting up the healthy campaigns while thanking INEC with great expectations to deliver a credible election.”
Among those present at the meeting were; The National Chairman, Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze; National Chairman, African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore; the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Oye; the National Women leader, Young Progressives Party, Binta Suleiman. – Punch.