An officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Magnus Ekeh, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upgrade its operations to enable the electorate vote from their respective homes.
Ekeh made the call at the INEC stakeholders’ meeting with theme: “Expansion of Voter Access to Polling Units” held in Owerri on Monday.
He said the upgrade to allow for e-voting was necessary considering the security challenges currently bedeviling the nation.
He said that the level of insecurity in the country was enough to deter voters from coming out to cast their votes at elections.
The NIS officer noted that e-voting was practised in other countries where there were not many security challenges as witnessed in Nigeria.
Also, the traditional ruler of Umudioka Ancient Kingdom, Orlu, Eze Thomas Obiefule, said that considering the level of insecurity in the state and Nigeria at large, the electorate needed to be sure of their lives while electing their leaders.
Obiefule urged INEC to create more polling units and liaise with traditional rulers, whom he said, were ready to work with the commission to achieve its aim.
In their remarks Mr Ifeanyi Chimezie, President, South East Youths for Equity Alliance and Mr. Anthony Akalugo from Njaba Local Government Area, called for the creation of more wards in communities.
The also called for polling units in tertiary institutions ànd urged INEC deploy its personnel from ward to ward to ensure that unclaimed voter cards were distributed to their owners.
They said INEC should be independent as its name implied and ensure that judiciary personnel were part of its meetings to appreciate its operations and challenges.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, Prof. Francis Ezeonu, said the meeting was aimed at intimating the stakeholders with steps so far taken by the commission in expanding voter access to polling units.
He said that access to polling units was crucial to voter turnout in elections, adding that experience had shown that enhancing voters’ access to polling units usually increased turnout in elections.
Ezeonu said the commission made attempts over the years to create additional polling units to cater to the interest of new settlements and areas with unmanageable voter population.
The REC however said such attempts stirred up needless controversies among the political class and other interest groups.
He said that stakeholders had agreed with the commission that existing number of polling units was no longer adequate and not conducive for voters to exercise their right to vote, especially in the context of COVID-19 protocols.
Ezeonu said as the commission planned for the next general election cycle, it had become necessary to expand voter access to polling units by decongesting polling units.
He said that the measure was to minimise overcrowding and reduce the long distance voters traveled in order to vote during elections.
“INEC in Imo has completed the assignment as directed and the essence of today’s meeting is to brief you on what we have done.
“A total of 1235 voting points have been converted to polling units in Imo using a national threshold of 500 to 750 registered voters.
“Added to the existing 3523 polling units, Imo now has a total of 4758,” he said.
Ezeonu said the report of the exercise in Imo would be transmitted to the commission’s headquarters for further processing.
He said that INEC would publish the names of the new polling units, their locations and delineation data, before the resumption of continuous voter registration scheduled for June. (NAN)