•Says commission finalising issuance of 1,642,386 identification tags for the polling, collation agents
•Expresses concern about violent attacks on supporters of political parties
•Under no circumstances should the elections be postponed – IPAC
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Following the redistribution of voters to new polling units nationwide, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that there were 240 polling units without registered voters spread across 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
As such, the electoral body declared that elections would not be held in the 240 polling units spread across the country.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made this known on Monday in Abuja at a meeting with political parties held at the commission’s headquarters.
He recalled that in 2021, with the support of political parties and other critical stakeholders, the Commission successfully expanded voter access to polling units 25 years after the last delimitation exercise in 1996.
Yakubu said consequently, the number of polling units increased from 119,973 to the current figure of 176,846.
He noted that at previous meetings, the commission also briefed political parties on the efforts to redistribute voters to the polling units in order to avoid the congestion that made voting cumbersome in many of them nationwide.
Yakubu stated: “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 Federal Capital Territory (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.”
The chairman stressed that in the avowed commitment to transparency, the Commission was 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.
He said with this development, “the number of polling units where elections will hold nationwide on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023 is now 176,606.”
Yakubu stressed that Nigerians deserve the right to know the locations of these polling units, while adding that the soft copy of the list has been uploaded to INEC website and social media platforms for public information and guidance.
He added: “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, Yakubu noted that all voters who have been assigned to new polling units would receive text messages from the Commission indicating their polling units.
The chairman said the commission had also compiled the register of such voters, stressing that INEC State offices would give it wide publicity, especially for those who might not have provided their telephone numbers during voter registration or those whose numbers may have changed.
He urged voters to locate and confirm their polling units before election day by sending a regular text or WhatsApp message to a dedicated telephone number, saying details of the simple procedure would be uploaded to our social media platforms shortly.
Yakubu revealed: “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.”
He, therefore, urged 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.
Yakubu said a situation where two or more agents claim to represent a political party, resulting in commotion at polling units or collation centres, was unacceptable.
He maintained that only Identification tags issued by the Commission would be recognised on election day and violators are liable to arrest and prosecution for impersonation.
The chairman noted: “Turning to the ongoing electioneering campaigns, 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.”
The commission called 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, the Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yabagi Yusuf reaffirmed 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.
He said the 2023 general election would be a watershed in the history of elections in Nigeria, stressing that the tide has changed, because an unknown party could pull a surprise to the greatest chagrin of all.
From this point of view, Yabagi noted that it was necessary to advise INEC to keep its date with history which must not be wasted
The IPAC chairman stated categorically that under no circumstances should this election be postponed.
According to him, INEC should create a golden niche for herself, especially the Chairman who has become the child of history. Nigerians are watching, the international community is watching and the parties are palpitating. I therefore call on all Nigerians of good conscience to take credible results of the election the way it is.
“At worst, 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