Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it has removed 749 polling units from inappropriate places across the country.
The nation’s electoral umpire also said nine of them were removed from shrines and several others from religious houses, royal palaces, and private properties.
Speaking at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), in Abuja yesterday, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said from the initial 119,973 polling units, the nation now has 176, 846 full-fledged polling units.
Also, in the sequence of off-season elections, the INEC chairman said Ekiti State governorship election will hold on Saturday 18th June 2022, while the Osun State governorship election will hold one month later on Saturday 16th July 2022.
Yakubu said the history of creating and expanding polling units in Nigeria has been long and complex.
He said their adequacy and accessibility in terms of number and location across the country were some of the challenges that had to be addressed in the interest of credible elections.
Before 2010, he said the commission operated on a round figure of approximately 120,000 Polling Units.
He, however, said a census undertaken by the Commission before the 2011 General Election arrived at the precise figure of 119,973 polling units.
Yakubu noted that the commission 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.
According to him, “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.
“Of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, 6 mosques, 21 churches and 9 shrines. The remaining 336 Polling Units were relocated for various reasons which include distance, difficult terrain, congestion, communal conflict, new settlements and general insecurity.
“Also, after wide ranging consultations with stakeholders and fieldwork by our officials, the 56,872 voting points and voting point settlements were converted and added to the existing 119,974 polling units.
“Consequently, the Commission is glad to report that 25 years since the current Polling Units were created in 1996, the hard nut is finally and successfully cracked after several unsuccessful attempts. Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged Polling Units.”
Speaking further, he said following several unsuccessful attempts to create additional polling units despite the obvious pressure from increased number of registered voters, the commission established voting points and voting point settlements across the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a pragmatic response to necessity.
He said the voting points were tied to the existing Polling Units and Voting Point Settlements.
The INEC chairman said the number of registered voters in a polling unit and the Voting Point Settlement in the FCT, was used to determine their voting points, based on the upper and lower thresholds of 500 and 750 voters respectively.
Yakubu said these were also the limits used for the 2019 general election.