The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has commenced nationwide verification exercise for centres proposed to be converted to polling units across the country.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Tuesday at INEC’s office in Karu local government area, Nasarawa State, while visiting some of the proposed centres and existing polling units in the FCT and Nasarawa State.
The chairman said that the purpose of the verification exercise was to ensure that the right thing was done in the conversion of the voting points to polling units.
“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,” he said.
The INEC chairman said he had been informed that 395 voting points were being converted to polling units in Karu local government area.
Yakubu said that with the conversion of voting points to polling units, 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 2019. Recall that we are converting the voting points used for the 2019 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.
He gave assurance that the Continuous Voters Registration exercise would commence on June 28 after the conversion of the polling units.
Yakubu added that voters would be given the opportunity to choose the location they wished to be their new polling units.
He urged stakeholders and community leaders to support the commission and sensitise the people on the ongoing exercise for the conversion of polling units.
Some of the centres visited by the INEC chairman included, PU001 located at Minister’s Gate, Life Camp; Government Secondary School – Life Camp which also served as a collation centre, Apo Legislative Quarters, and Zone-D entrance gate Apo, in the FCT.
INEC Electoral Officer, Abuja Municipal Area Council, Mrs Falimatu Bakare, explained the work done so far at the minister’s gate, Life Camp, saying that before now, the PU had one polling unit and six voting points.
Bakare said that four of the voting points had been moved to other public and open spaces, including Stella Maris School, Paradise Caffee Garden, and others, for easy access by voters in the area.
Also conducting the chairman’s team to the visited locations in Nasarawa, INEC electoral officer in Karu local government, Mr Idris Maikazua, said the voting points were moved out to public places to accommodate areas located far from the existing polling units.
The areas, according to him, included Aso, Karu e-library, Karu abattoir, City College of Education, Ruga Market, Mararaba International Market and other public and open spaces.
Yakubu and his team visited the commission’s office in Mararaba, Karu local government office and Karu International Market in Nasarawa State.
Also speaking with newsmen, National Commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, said that the visit was to ensure the integrity of the fieldwork carried out by the officers of the commission on the conversion exercise.
Haruna said that 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 that the process of the PUs conversion was being done in three stages starting with the fieldwork, which was undertaken by INEC electoral officers.
“The next stage is a 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,” he said.
He added that when that was concluded the CVR would commence by June 28.