2023: INEC moves to relocate polling units situated in shrines, forests

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As the drum for 2023 general elections beats closer, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to relocate all polling units not easily accessible to voters to safe and secured locations.

The electoral umpire said most polling units are suited in violent, overcrowded and unhealthy locations like shrines, forests, conflict areas and in homes of political chieftains.

Speaking in a stakeholders forum at the weekend in Jos, the Plateau State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Hussaini Pai said the move became necessary as these locations are problematic and contributes to late commencement of polls, disruption of elections which leads to decline in voter turnout.

According to him: “To tackle headlong the problems of inadequate voter access to polling units, the Commission has issued guidelines for the conversion of voting points and voting points settlements into polling units.

“The exercise includes the relocation of new and existing polling units to places where they better guarantee voter access and support compliance with an extant legal framework for the conduct of elections”.

The Plateau Electoral boss said as much as possible, the location of polling units shall be in accordance with the detailed guidelines issued by the Commission, adding that the new polling units must be accessible and in spacious facilities such as Schools, Town Halls, Health Centres, Court premises, and recreational centres.

“Under no circumstances shall polling units be located in facilities that are in dispute, private compounds, royal palaces, residences of government officials, political party buildings or religious worship centres”, Pai said.

Our correspondent reports that at the end of the exercise across the 17 LGAs a total of 2,358 voting points which satisfied the threshold requirements will be converted to autonomous polling units.

When the converted voting points are approved by the Commission, it will increase the existing 2,631 polling units to a total of 4,989 polling units in Plateau State to avail voters better access to polling units and serves previously unserved/poorly served areas, our correspondent said.