ICC Note: The Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has recently suggested that elections may be scheduled as early as January 2014. This announcement has caused a stir amongst Christian voters, who claim that many polling places in the last election were established in locations unsafe or uncomfortable for Christian and Animists voters, such as mosques and madrases, cemeteries, and "evil forests." This may have had the effect of suppressing Christian turnout in key areas, and swinging votes toward Islamic candidates. INEC Does not dispute that such sites were established as polling places in the last election. However, INEC does promise to work to avoid recurrences in the coming elections. Christians and others, however, have expressed little confidence that INEC will follow through on this promise.
10/13/2013 Nigeria (BBC News) - Polling stations in Nigeria were located in hard-to-access places like shrines, thick forests or even politicians' homes, in a bid to swing the last election.
So says the country's electoral chief, who's ordering all polling units to be placed in public spaces in future, reports suggest. Attahiru Jega says that - despite the obstacles - 73.5 million people still registered to vote in the 2011 election. The population is 167 million. "No polling unit should exist in a shrine or forest; [they] are just there to help some people win elections," Punch newspaper quotes Jega telling local electoral officials.
The issue was also previously raised by electoral officials in south-western Anambra State, who argued that the practice aimed to prevent certain groups of voters from casting their ballots. "There is no way women and Christians will vote in shrines or evil forests," one of them said, according to the Nigerian Telegraph.