The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has removed polling units located in churches, mosques, shrines, and other private properties preparatory to subsequent elections in the country.
“After consultation with stakeholders, the Commission has successfully removed 749 Polling Units from inappropriate locations to appropriate public facilities or open spaces in line with our policy to guarantee unencumbered access to Polling Units for all voters,” INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu told a press conference in Abuja Wednesday.
“Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 Mosques, 21 Churches and 9 Shrines.”
Yakubu said the decision was part of the commission’s effort to ensure “expansion of voter access to Polling Units by converting the Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements to full-fledged Polling Units.
“By doing so, fresh registrants and those seeking transfer will know the new polling units. This will enable them to choose their preferred voting locations on Election Day,” Yakubu said.
“We also promised that details of the new Polling Units would be made available to Nigerians ahead of the resumption of the CVR exercise.”
The INEC chairman noted that the history of creating and expanding polling units in Nigeria is long and complex.
He explained that their adequacy and accessibility in terms of number and locations across the country were some of the challenges that had to be addressed in the interest of credible elections.
“Before 2010, the Commission operated on a round figure of approximately 120,000 Polling Units. However, a census undertaken by the Commission before the 2011 General Election arrived at the precise figure of 119,973 Polling Units,” Yakubu said.
Yakubu said INEC also made efforts to relocate many polling units from inappropriate places such as private residences and properties, palaces of traditional rulers, and places of worship to public buildings accessible to voters, polling agents, observers, and the media during elections.
The INEC boss said the newly approved polling units for each state of the federation and FCT will be presented to the public in 37 volumes after its meeting on Wednesday.