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INEC to scrap polling units in shrines, private property

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[FILES] INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu. Photo; TWITTER/INECNIGERIA

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it will scrap polling units (PUs) in private property, shrines, palaces and premises of political party.

INEC said it has begun consultation with stakeholders to create more polling units with a view to giving more access to voters on elections day and create more polling units from the 119, 973 existing ones, which have become inadequate.

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It also maintained it would not encourage the siting of polling units in disputed government facilities and isolated locations like forests and shrines.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, who spoke yesterday in preparation for the commission’s engagement with stakeholders for their buy-in to the new PUs, explained that voter access to polling units meant their adequacy, which has to do with their establishment under Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

He said the location of PUs in conducive locations was for voters to participate freely in the electoral process and ensure that the environment at specific PUs remained conducive to positive voter experience, implementation of INEC’s guidelines, as well as adequate security and voter safety, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yakubu explained that the commission preferred voter access to polling units considering accessibility to voting locations as guaranteed in the electoral legal framework as a democratic right for citizens.

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He noted that INEC’s intention was best captured through expanding access to polling units, rather than merely establishing them, which is more limited in scope.

The INEC boss maintained that the current configuration of 119,973 PUs was established by the then National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) in 1996, adding that in the almost 25-year period, all attempts to review the PUs structure had been unsuccessful for sundry reasons.

Yakubu further disclosed that the 1996 PU configuration was used for 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections.

“When the PU structure was established in 1996, it was projected to serve about 50 million registered voters. However, the number of registered voters for in the 1999 general election was 57.93 million. This rose to 60.82 million in 2003, 61.56 million in 2007 and 73.52 million in 2011,” he stated.

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