The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has put together a “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic”, to provide a guide for its staff and engage with stakeholders as the elections in some states and senatorial districts draw near.
Rising from its meeting on Thursday at its national headquarters in Abuja, the commission said the policy would enable its officials and staff to 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 a statement by the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, 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. 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. The Commission remains committed to raising public confidence in the electoral process in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic and to regularly communicate its actions and challenges to the public.
Okoye assured that the commission will flag-off robust engagement with stakeholders before the elections in Edo and Ondo states on 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020, to present the document.
“We will meet 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,” the statement read.
Also, Okoye disclosed that the commission had received official declaration of vacancies for four Senatorial Districts and read reports of the passing of a Senator and 4 members of some state houses of assembly.
“As at today, the commission is planning for nine bye-elections across seven (7) states of the Federation, vis: Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Imo North Senatorial District, Plateau South Senatorial District, 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),” the statement said.