The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released a new guideline on the conduct of the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections, as well as nine bye-elections across seven states of the federation.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, said this Thursday night at the end of the commission’s management meeting.
He said the commission approved its “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic” and that the general purpose of the policy was to enable officials and staff of INEC understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders as they prepare for elections.
According to him, the clean copy of the policy document, which will be released on Monday 25th May 2020, covers health and legal issues, election planning and operations, election day and post-election activities, voter registration, political parties, election observation, electoral security and deployment of technology.
“Conducting elections in a pandemic such as COVID-19 is yet uncharted waters. Only very few jurisdictions have any experience with this.
“That notwithstanding, the commission is committed to conducting all elections that are due within the extant legal framework.
“However, in so doing it will put a premium on public safety and mitigation of health risks from COVID-19. Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates and officials,” Okoye said.
On engagement with stakeholder on the conduct of the state elections, Okoye said that in view of the end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively, the commission will flag off engagements with its critical stakeholders to present the policy document.
He said the commission will meet with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Saturday, 30th May 2020; political parties on Monday, 1st June 2020; civil society groups on 2nd June 2020; and the Media on 3rd June 2020.
On the conduct of bye-elections, Okoye said that in addition to the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, INEC has received the official declaration of vacancies for four Senatorial Districts and read reports of the passing of a Senator and four members of some state houses of assembly.
He said that as on Thursday, the commission is planning for nine bye-elections across seven states of the Federation, with Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Imo North Senatorial District and Plateau South Senatorial District.
Others are Cross River North Senatorial District; Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State; Bayo State Constituency, Borno State; Nasarawa Central State Constituency, Nasarawa State; and Bakori State Constituency, Katsina State.
He said the provisions of the policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic shall also apply to the conduct of these elections.