The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved a “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic”.
In a statement on Thursday, it said the general purpose of the policy is to enable officials and staff of the Commission to understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The electoral umpire also stated that the policy is to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders as they prepare for elections.
“The clean copy of the policy document, which will be released on Monday, 25th May, 2020, covers health and legal issues, election planning & operations, election day & post-election activities, voter registration, political parties, election observation, electoral security and deployment of technology,” the statement said.
To this end, the Commission said it would meet with:
1.Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Saturday, 30th May 2020;
2.Political Parties on Monday, 1st June 2020;
3.Civil Society Groups on 2nd June 2020; and
4.The Media on 3rd June 2020.
“However, in so doing, it [the meeting] 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 statement stated.
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 said it would flag off “robust engagements” with its critical stakeholders to present the Policy Document.
“It is to be noted that in addition to the Governorship elections in Edo & Ondo States, the Commission has received official declaration of vacancies for 4 Senatorial Districts & read reports of the passing of a Senator & 4 members of some State House Assembly,” it added.
“As at today [Thursday], the Commission is planning for nine (9) bye-elections across seven (7) States of the Federation as follows:
1. Bayelsa Central Senatorial District
2. Bayelsa West Senatorial District
3. Imo North Senatorial District
4. Plateau South Senatorial District
5. Cross River North Senatorial District
6. Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State
7. Bayo State Constituency, Borno State
8. Nasarawa Central State Constituency, Nasarawa State
9. Bakori State Constituency, Katsina State.
“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.
“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.
“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.”