The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday insisted that it will conduct the 2020 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states as scheduled despite fears seeming threats posed by novel Coronavirus in Nigeria.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, made this known in a virtual quarterly meeting with the media on Wednesday.
According to Mr Okoye, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is going ahead with all scheduled elections despite the COVID-19 pandemic to stave off possible constitutional crisis that could derail the nation’s democracy and electoral process. He stressed that the commission is interested in taking the lead in the process of innovation and creativity in the electoral process rather than throwing in the towel and postpone all elections to an indeterminate period.
In his words, “Throwing in the towel in our constitutional circumstances may do violence to the Constitution and wittingly or unwittingly throw the country into avoidable constitutional crisis.
“The commission is therefore determined to proceed with the two end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states and the 10 Senatorial and state assembly elections with cautious optimistic bearing in mind that the health and safety of the people will be crucial determinants of the success or otherwise of the elections.”
“We are mindful of the fact that we are at war with an “unseen enemy. We are aware of the fact that some of our compatriots have lost their lives on account of COVID-19 pandemic. We are aware that so many people are in isolation and quarantine centres. We are aware that some of our people are isolated and quarantined at home.” He added.
On his part INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu reel out a new set of guidelines specially designed to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus during the polls. “…in tandem with the new health reality, accreditation of media organisations for these elections will be done online through a dedicated portal. You will be fully briefed at this meeting on the new procedure”, the INEC chairman said. The commission, therefore released the procedure for accreditation for media organisations covering the governorship elections include the following:
“Each media organisation will apply and upload the list of its personnel to be accredited and their passport photographs and personal details.
“Accredited journalists must observe all the health protocols issued by the Commission, the health authorities and the various state governments.
“Accredited journalist must also respect the secrecy of the vote, the right of the voter to free choice. Mahmood said
INEC national commissioner in charge of electoral operations, Prof. Okechukwu ibeanu. released fresh guidelines and code of conduct for voting during elections.
Specifically, Prof. ibeanu said that the commission would not tolerate branded face masks, as any one with such would be turned back. He also said that INEC will not provide face masks due to logistical reasons based on cost.
He said that for INEC to provide face masks for over 6.4 million at N100 each would cost the commission over N640 million.
The INEC commissioner said that results would not be transmitted electronically as there is no law yet for it.
Also, he said that the commission had suspended the continuous registration of voters at least for now due to covid -19.
Prof. Ibeanu added that the commission had suspended the continuous voters registration and would collapse some collation centres into one as well as collapsing the registration area centres.
He also said that there may be a reduction of voting points, but said that this may be due to reports in the course of the preparations for the elections.
Prof. Ibeanu, said. “Wearing of face mask at Polling Units and all election locations is mandatory. Please make provision for your own face mask. Face masks must be worn at all times, but an election official may request you to lower your mask for proper identification when necessary and anyone that is symptomatic to covid 19 would be isolated immediately.
“Voting starts by 8.30 am and stops at 2.30 pm.
“There shall be two queues formed at each polling location (Polling Unit or Voting Point). The first queue (the outer queue) will be outside, from which an election official shall bring voters into the voting area in batches. The second queue (the inner queue) will be formed in the voting area.
” By 2.30 pm, an election official shall stand at the end of the outer queue indicating that the queue is closed. Any voter on the outer queue by 2.30 pm shall be allowed to vote.
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