The Independent National Electoral Commission has rescheduled voting to Sunday in 10 polling units at Victoria Garden City, Lagos. This, the commission said, was to sort out disagreements over the relocation of the polling units.
There were agitations over INEC’s decision to move the 10 polling units to locations outside the gate of the VGC as against their original designated spots.
Voting had not started as of 3 pm as enraged arguments deepened between leaders of the Victoria Garden City Property Owners and Residents Association and INEC officials.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, told newsmen after speaking with the residents that voting would hold on Sunday between 8.30am and 2.30pm.
He said the residents had earlier been informed of the relocation of the polling units to spots outside the VGC gate following an alleged hostage-taking of INEC officials during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
He stated, “We had an issue during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections when our corps member ad hoc staff claimed that they were held hostage till about 4am on February 26. Most of them were hesitant to come here today (Saturday).
“Consequently, we sent a message to the estate leadership to inform them that today’s elections would be held in front of the gate. We mobilised and our officials were here before 8am, but the estate’s leadership claimed that non-resident hoodlums might destabilise the process outside the gate. So, they did not feel secure.”
Agbaje said statistics showed that there were 6,024 registered voters in the VGC, 5,624 of whom collected their permanent voter cards.
He added, “When we got here, we saw a different situation where it was even difficult for security operatives to contain. I had to inform INEC national headquarters about the situation and it was agreed that we should mobilise here tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8.30am to conduct the election.
“We are still appealing to the corps members to come on Sunday, but if they don’t come, we shall mobilise our regular staff because they will be free after today’s (Saturday) exercise. The commission’s decision and idea is that everybody should be allowed their votes; we don’t want to disenfranchise anybody.”
Earlier, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata, and one of the leaders in VGC noted that INEC could not change venues of polling units without proper notification.
Akpata said, “When we came out this morning, we were told to go to the gate for the election. When we got to the gate, we told INEC officials that we would not be voting at an illegal location. It is not about being elitist or about being entitled. It is illegal.”
Akpata also faulted INEC’s allegation that some of its electoral personnel were held hostage at the VGC during the February 25 elections.
He added, “I totally contest that allegation. It is so preposterous. INEC officials arrived late that day and tried to leave early and we said they could not do that. Nobody held anybody hostage. We as citizens only demanded that the right things must be done.”