INEC begins verification of polling units’ expansion, promises to eliminate congestion



Yakubu

() has commenced nationwide verification exercise for centres proposed to be converted to polling units across the country, the commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has said.

He spoke Tuesday at the office in Karu local government of Nasarawa state during a visit to some of the proposed centres and existing polling units in the FCT and Nasarawa state.

The chairman said the purpose of the verification exercise was to ensure  the right thing was done in the conversion of the voting points to polling units.

He said: “All the National Commissioners are out visiting the states of the Federation to verify the work of converting the voting points to polling units.

“So, we decided from the headquarters to visit some of the polling units and voting points in the FCT and also in Karu Local Government, Nasarawa State.

 “You will recall that as part of our engagement with stakeholders, we showed images of one of the congested polling units in the country from Karu, in Nasarawa State.

 “So, I have to verify that the right thing is being done in converting those voting points to polling units and relocating them in line with the Commission’s guidelines.

“So far, it is work in progress. At the end of the exercise, we will address the media.”

Yakubu said he was informed that 395 voting points were being converted to polling units in Karu .

With the conversion of voting points to polling units, he said there would be expanded access to polling units for voters, while congestion of polling units would be eliminated in future elections.

 “What we have done basically, is to build on what we did in . Recall that we are converting the voting points used for the elections into autonomous polling units and relocating them.

“This is going to be a continuous process. One exercise will not solve the problem. But we hope we have established the mechanism that going forward, the commission will be adjusting the number of polling units as the number of registered voters increases,” he said.

The boss further assured that the Continuous Voters exercise would commence June 28 after the conversion of the Polling Units, adding  voters would be given the opportunity to choose the location they wished to be their new polling units.

The boss pleaded with stakeholders and community leaders to support the commission and sensitise the people on the ongoing exercise for the conversion of polling units.

The centres visited included, PU001 located at Minister’s Gate, Life Camp; Government Secondary School – Life Camp which also served as a collation center, Apo Legislative Quarters, and Zone-D entrance gate Apo, in the FCT.

Receiving the INEC chair, the Electoral Officer, Abuja Municipal Area Council, Mrs Falimatu Bakare, briefed him on the work done so far at the minister’s gate, Life Camp.

Before now, she said, the PU had one polling unit and six voting points, noting that four of the voting points had been moved to other public and open spaces, including Stella Maris School, Paradise Café Garden, and others, for easy access by voters in the area.

At Nasarawa, the EO in Karu , Mr Idris Maikazua, said the voting points were moved out to public places to accommodate areas located far from the existing polling units.

He listed the areas to include Aso, Karu e-library, Karu abattoir, City College of Education, Ruga Market, Mararaba International Market and other public and open spaces.

The visiting team was also at the commission’s office in Mararaba, Karu Local Government office and Karu International market in Nasarawa State.

Speaking with after the visit, National Commissioner Mohammed Haruna said the visit was to ensure the of the fieldwork carried out by the officers of the commission on the conversion exercise.

Haruna said at the end of the verification exercise, INEC would hold a stakeholders’ meeting to inform them of what the commission had done, as well as to get their inputs.

He said the process of the PUs conversion was being done in three stages, starting with the fieldwork which was undertaken by INEC Electoral officers.

Haruna said: “The next stage is verification and that is what we have embarked on from Monday, which was a public holiday, from May 3 to May 7 and from May 8, we will hold a stakeholders’ meeting.”

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