• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Why election will not hold in 240 polling units – INEC

25 February: A deciding moment for Nigeria

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said elections will hold in 240 Polling Units (PUs) across 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to INEC, the development is informed by absence of voters in the polling units but the exercise will hold in 176,606 out of the total 176,846 PUs.

Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman said this at a meeting with the 18 registered political parties in Abuja on Monday.

Yakubu said no new registrants chose the PUs and no voters indicated interest to transfer to them during the last continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise, mainly for security reasons.

He said INEC state offices had redistributed voters from overcrowded PUs to new ones to avoid congestion during elections.

The chairman said INEC had in 2021 expanded access as it increased the number of PUs from 119,973 to the current figure of 176,846.

“However, there are 240 polling units without registered voters spread across 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). They range from one PU to 12 PUs in each State and the FCT, except Taraba and Imo states with 34 and 38 PUs respectively.

“No new registrants chose the PUs 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,” Yakubu said.

He also said from the feedback INEC received from its officials and accredited observers following the recent nationwide mock accreditation using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) it is clear that some voters could not easily identify their polling units.

Yakubu said this should not happen on election day and advised voters to confirm the locations of their polling units through a dedicated portal on our website.

The INEC helmsman said: “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,” he said.

He also said 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.

Yakubu warned that 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,” he added.

Read also: ‘Why Umo Eno remains PDP governorship candidate in A/Ibom’

Yakubu also expressed worry over the ongoing electioneering campaigns, especially on 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,” he said.

In his remarks, Sani Yabagi, the national chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) said the parties are prepared to ensure the success of the elections, stressing that under no circumstances should the polls be postponed.

Yabagi also reiterated the continual commitment of IPAC to the long standing cooperation and mutually beneficial relationship between the parties and INEC.

“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.

“I want to use this occasion to also reaffirm the confidence of IPAC in the leadership of INEC for its consistent demonstration of diligence, uncommon zeal and patriotism in the pursuit of the agencies statutory mandate.

“On the basis of our evaluation that INEC has been well on track, the leadership of IPAC additionally wishes to use this occasion to commend, the efforts of INEC in confronting the extraordinary environmental challenges occasioned by naira redesign and fuel scarcity through Mr. Chairman’s visit to the relevant agencies.

“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 areencouraged by this and also wish to appreciate INEC while expecting them to keep the flag of perfection flying,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United States (US) said it is not backing any candidate or party but it supporting the electoral process and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.

Molly Phee, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of Africa Affairs made the pledge when she was accompanied by Mary Beth Leonard, the US Ambassador to Nigeria on a courtesy visit to the INEC chairman in Abuja.

Pheee said the concern of US as an advanced democracy is to encourage a successful election that is free and fair and peaceful in the Nigeria.

“Since 1999, Nigeria has been moving up in solidifying and consolidating its democratic trajectory. And now, under the leadership of the chairman and the support of his superb team, all Nigerians can have confidence in the integrity of the upcoming election.

“I do want to emphasise the importance of conducting a peaceful election and I do want to emphasise that every citizen, every stakeholder, every party involved in the election has a responsibility before the election during the campaign period, during the election and after the election, to be peaceful. It’s very important. It’s a challenge we faced in my own country,” she said.

In his response the INEC chairman, Yakubu said like the US, the commission is not a political and has no candidate it is backing but will uphold the choice made by Nigerians at the ballot.

“Like the United States, the commission is not a political party. We have no candidates and will only focus on the process. The choice ultimately belongs to the people of Nigeria and the commission will uphold the choice made by Nigerians. We are committed to free, fair, credible, inclusive and verifiable elections in 2023.

“The United States, understandably is interested in the Nigerian democracy and Nigeria is equally interested in the US democracy. I have said this in Washington for those who did not hear me I want to repeat it again. If the United States is the largest presidential democracy in the world, which country is the second largest presidential democracy in the world? It’s actually Nigeria.

“Based on the projection of Nigeria’s population in the next two years, who knows we may also utterly overtake the United States… the largest presidential democracy in the world. So we’re interested in ensuring that we consolidate our democracy. There is no system of government better than a democratic system where the will of the people will continue to prevail,” he said.