ElectionsFact Check

How true is allegation INEC disenfranchised eligible voters by moving their polling units?

Claim: WhatsApp message alleged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is moving people to other polling units to disenfranchise them.

How true is allegation INEC disenfranchised eligible voters by moving their polling units?

Verdict: FALSE. Although the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is indeed allotting new polling units to people in the same area where they registered, the purpose is to reduce congestion at overpopulated polling units and not to disenfranchise the electorate.

Full Text

As election day draws closer, the pressing concern for electorates is the location of their Polling Unit (PU) and how to find it.

Recently, a viral message on WhatsApp claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is moving people to polling units different from where they had registered. 

The message shared on various WhatsApp groups cautioned registered voters, stating that having a PVC does not guarantee they will be allowed to vote.

The message, which did not include the author’s name, reads, “Having a PVC is no longer a guarantee that you will vote. If your name has been migrated to another PU from where you’ve been used to (even if you did not request a change of location) in line with the above reason, you may not be allowed to vote there on voting day.”

Registered voters were asked to follow a link provided in the body of the message to check their polling unit and share the post widely.

How true is allegation INEC disenfranchised eligible voters by moving their polling units?
How true is allegation INEC disenfranchised eligible voters by moving their polling units?
Screenshots of the viral WhatsApp message. 

Following the Electoral Act 2022, INEC has consistently maintained that no registered voter will be allowed to vote at a polling unit different from where they had registered; hence such a post could confuse the electorate, causing distrust in the electoral body as well as voter apathy.

It is in view of this that DUBAWA deemed it necessary to fact-check the message.

Verification

In June 2021, INEC created an additional 56,872 Polling Units, bringing the total number of Polling Units in Nigeria to 176,974. This was done to accommodate increasing numbers of registered voters and prevent overcrowding at polling units on election days. 

In a conversation with the INEC Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, in Kwara State, Adamu Musa discovered that very few registered voters chose the newly created polling units. 

Mr Musa explained that the Commission, in line with Section 40 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022, decided to move some registered voters from polling units with registered voters above 750 to other polling units with fewer registered voters. 

He clarified that the polling units where they are being moved to are within the same constituency as the previous ones. Mr Musa stated that the measure will not disenfranchise affected registered voters as they will be duly informed and directed to the new polling units where their names were moved to.

He explained further that the list of names of the affected registered voters would be pasted at the wards for them to confirm their polling units before Election Day. Mr Musa added that there would be adequate publicity in the media to ensure that the information reaches the persons concerned and other stakeholders.

This development was also confirmed in a post by INEC on its verified Twitter handle where it assured affected registered voters that they would be duly informed by its State Offices on the polling units assigned to them. The electoral body also announced that elections would not be held in 240 polling units across the country because no voter registered or took transfer there due to insecurity. 

How true is allegation INEC disenfranchised eligible voters by moving their polling units?
Screenshot of INEC’s post on Twitter.

DUBAWA also verified the link in the message and found it original to INEC, as voters can use this to confirm their polling unit. 

Conclusion

Our verification revealed that although the Independent National Electoral Commission is allotting new polling units to some electorates, it is not to disenfranchise them but to ensure that the newly created polling units do not record zero votes and overcrowding is avoided on Election Day. This is to enable registered voters to perform their civic duty with ease.


The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2023 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Harmony FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button