The Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Olusegun Agbaje, has rescheduled voting at the eight polling units at the Victoria Garden City (VGC), on Lagos Island, for today.
About 6,024 electorates at the highbrow estate, resisted the re-location of their polling centres from the VGC Park to outside the Gate of the estate by INEC.
When The Guardian arrived at the estate around 12.15 p.m., hundreds of prospective voters were seen at the Gate protesting INEC decision to relocate their voting centres to outside the estate, which they said could be easily penetrated by hoodlums.
They described INEC’s decision as illegal because the re-designated centres were not listed on the INEC portal.
One of the residents and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata, said the residents resisted to vote at the new centres because it is illegal and residents will not succumb to a process that will not make their votes count.
But Agbaje, who arrived at the estate around 1.00p.m said the commission decided to change the voting centres to outside the gate because of what he described as, an “unpalatable experience their ad hoc had during the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections in the estate.”
He specifically alleged the residents of the estate of “holding INEC staff hostage during the last election and were not released till the following morning.”
He said he could no longer subject innocent NYSC members and other staff to such an excruciating experience, the reason INEC, had during the week wrote to the management of the estate that their polling centres had been re-designated to outside the gate.
But Akpata said Agbaje was given wrong information about what happened on February 25, leading to ending the voting process at 3.20a.m.
He said INEC staff came late to the estate and wanted to leave early. He said two of the polling units have over 1,000 registered voters, adding that at the end of the exercise, it was discovered that the number of accredited voters shown by the BVAS did not correspond with number of votes cast, which may invalidate the entire voting at that centre.
He said the residents insisted that the Polling Officer should rectify the mistake, which was done, but they were surprised that the faulty results were posted at the INEC portal.
Agbaje initially agreed that the election should hold between 2 and 7pm but the insistence of the executive officers of the residents association that everybody on queue must be allowed to perform their civic duties forced the postponement of the election till today.
Agbaje said, the electoral body had to postpone the election at the VGC because corps members deployed as ad hoc staff were hesitant to enter the VGC estate.
He said the situation was difficult for security agents to contain hence he and his team had to come to the area.
“We have eight polling units here with 6,024 registered voters and out of which 5,624 people have their PVCs,” he stated, adding that two other polling units at the estate’s main gate were also affected. “Eight here (in the estate) and two outside,” he noted.
“After due consultation and further directive from the national headquarters that we should remobilise here tomorrow (Sunday) morning by 08:30 am to conduct the elections.
“By 08:30 am tomorrow (Sunday), we will reconvene here.”
Agbaje said the chairman of the security committee of the estate had assured the commission of the safety of corps members and INEC staff as well as the safety of voters and said that the election should commence but should end by 7pm. They argued that there was no way over 5000 voters could finish voting between 2pm when the election would have started and 7pm when the REC wanted the election to end.
The REC also visited polling units in Magodo, Isheri, Alausa Ikeja, Anifowoshe Ikeja and Surulere areas of the state, where voting went on without any hitch.
However, apart from Magodo and Isheri areas, other areas recorded very low voter turnout; a development voters in those areas attributed to threats and counter threats by some individuals who threatened to deal with those who would vote against their preferred political party and candidates.
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