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Jega, commissioners in crucial meeting over polling units today

By Jide Ajani
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, is set to meet with national commissioners of INEC today, with a view to taking a decision on the controversial lopsided allocation of 30,000 Polling Units, PUs.

The meeting is taking place on a day the case instituted over the matter by the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN is scheduled to commence.

The meeting is also coming at a time when INEC’s last phase of the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, has run into a hitch in states, forcing the postponement of the exercise in others.

The hitches have also led to finger-pointing and allegations of bias on the part of the Commission.

Anambra Supplementary Election: INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru  Jega addressing pressmen , announcing November 30 for Supplementary election at  Anambra State  while National Commissioner Lawrence Nwuruku looks on in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.
Anambra Supplementary Election: INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega addressing pressmen , announcing November 30 for Supplementary election at Anambra State while National Commissioner Lawrence Nwuruku looks on in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

Earlier, in an attempt to defy the court, INEC had issued a memo titled “Reconfiguration of polling units structure and the creation of new polling units” which was signed by one Musa Adamu, directing Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, to commence the implementation. The memo stated in part:

“I have been directed to request you to submit your report on the reconfiguration of polling units structure and creation of polling units to the Commission on or before Thursday, 30th October, 2014.”

The allocation of the 30,000 had seen the North get 21,615 and the South, 8,412.

Fasheun in the suit has asked the court to as a matter of urgency put a stop to the plan, declaring that the purported creation of additional 30,000 Polling units in Nigeria by INEC was not only ultra vires, unconstitutional, mala fide, null, but void and has no effect whatsoever. He argued that the allocation of what he termed, a mere 8,412 polling units out of 30,000 additional polling units, was discriminatory against the states in Southern Nigeria and has put the voters in that part of the country at a disadvantage.

The 30,000 additional polling units were distributed as follows: North West-7,906; North East- 5, 291; North Central-6,318; South East-1, 167; South West- 4, 160 and Souht-South-3,087.

In the suit filed on its behalf by a consortium of lawyers headed by Mrs. Nella Andem-Rabana [SAN], the plaintiff is asking the court for an order of perpetual injunction against INEC, its Chairman, Commissioners, officers, agents, privies from further creating any additional 30,000 polling units before the 2015.

The prayers before the court, among others, were that “unless restrained by an order of the court, the defendant will use the 30,000 additional polling units to provide additional voting facilities in the Northern part of the Nigeria during the 2015 general elections which would create opportunity for massive manipulation of the figures emanating from such polling units to the disadvantage and discrimination of the Southern part of Nigeria.

“That if the defendant is not restrained from implementing its plan to create and distribute additional 30,000 polling units the interest of the Southern electorate will be prejudiced irreparably and unjustifiably because the 2015 general election timetable and guidelines for political primaries has been released.

According to the suit, this development no doubt amounts to an attempt to foist on the court a fait accompli so as to make the entire suit and the pending application an exercise in futility.

 


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