Polling Units still exist inside Emir’s Palace despite ban by INEC
Nigeria’s electoral umpire once claimed it had removed polling units from palaces, worship centres, and private residences across the country, tagging them as inappropriate places.
However, in this report, Platinum Post documented how the Emir of Ilorin’s palace in Kwara state is still designated polling units.
Named Ilorin West Secretariat polling units I, II, III in Magaji Ngeri Ward, these three polling units are located inside the Emir’s palace in Ilorin.
In June 2021, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission had removed polling units from ‘inappropriate’ places and worship centres across the country.
“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,” Mr Yakubu had said.
“Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged Polling Units. Out of this figure, 232 were removed from private properties, 145 royal palaces, six Mosques, 21 Churches and nine Shrines.”
However, some polling units in Ilorin, located inside royal palace are still reflected on INEC’s portal as existing polling units with people registering to cast their votes there during the 2023 general elections.
The Platinum Post also gathered that new polling units, such as Ode Dauda Fagba and Ode Alfa Folournsho Fagba were added to the existing ones on INEC’s portal in order to accommodate new eligible voters due to the rising population in the area.
No polling unit was removed – Residents
A civil servant who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was authorised to speak to the press said he is a registered voter at Polling Unit 10 inside the emir’s palace, adding that there are additional two other poll units known as 011 and 012 inside the palace.
He said none of these polling units was removed or converted, but rather new polling units were created in addition to the existing ones.
He said, “There are three polling units and we vote in those polling units but due to the higher numbers of voters, it’s been split to 6 (010A 010B, 011A 011B, 012A 012B).”
He continued: “I am a voter there. I am not aware INEC has removed the palace’s polling. I can even say that has not happened because if they had done that, we should have been informed by now. The only information we have is the creation of new polling units. We are aware of that and new voters are registering there too.”
Oladimeji Suleiman, 34, a youth leader who used to cast his vote at the polling unit located inside the Emir’s palace told The Informat247 that he had been moved to one of the newly created PUs.
“No polling unit was removed,” Suleiman said. “The three units at the palace are still existing with voters ready to exercise their rights in the coming election. As coordinator of the creation of polling units and registration process in this area, I ensure new polling units have at least 100 voters registered under it in order not to be cancelled by INEC.”
The residents of Fagba, Agọ, Ẹyinkule Oba and others who are eligible voters of these polling units said they are still preparing to vote again in these polling units inside the palace.
“In this sense, no existing polling unit was removed by INEC but rather, they created additional ones to accommodate more registrants,” Oladimeji said.
Yusuf Olanrewaju, a youth leader, insisted that no polling unit was removed but rather new ones were created in close areas.
“We ensure people are aware of this new development and sensitized them on the need to register under new polling units too,” he said.
INEC denies despite glaring evidence
The INEC resident electoral commissioner in Kwara State, Mallam Garba Attahiru Madami, denied that polling units still exist in the Emir’s palace despite glaring evidence.
“There are no polling units inside Emir’s palace,” insisted. “We do not have any there. We have polling units in open places across the state,” he added.