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INEC moves sensitive materials to LGAs in Enugu

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INEC moves sensitive materials to LGAs in Enugu

Materials

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has started moving sensitive materials to the 17 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Enugu State ahead of the March 9 elections.

Ononamadu noted that as soon as the commission’s staff finished sorting out sensitive materials at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Enugu, they were loaded for onward movement to the LGAs by 2 p.m.

He said the materials and INEC staff were been guarded by contingent of heavily armed security personnel to each of the LGAs in the state.

“Hopefully, before night fall today, the materials must have arrived in the various LGAs for sorting to the various Registration Area Centres (RACs).

“This means that we are working 36 hours ahead to ensure that there will be no hitch in the early commencement of voting on Saturday,’’ he said.

The REC noted that the commission would be hiring a total of 1,700 buses for election duty in the state.

He said all the vehicles to be hired would be through the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and National Association of Transports Owners (NATO).

Ononamadu added that the commission had concluded arrangements with the transport unions to ensure hitch-free movement of staff, ad hoc staff and electoral materials.

“We have signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with them through their unions.

“In it, we have to pay them 50 per cent before commencement of election duty on Friday.

“On the day of the election proper, we pay their unions 15 per cent of the total money agreed and ensure we pay the balance of 35 per cent immediately after the election day,’’ he said.

Ononamadu also urged residents to disregard a fake news indicating that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not take part in the governorship election.

“As I speak, the logo and abbreviation of the party’s name are in all necessary documents and places to ensure they participate fully like other political parties in the race,’’ he added.

NNN recalls that over 1.7 million voters have collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards out of the 1,942,776 registered voters in the state.

The state has 4,146 voting locations and 260 political wards.

Politics

COVID-19 won’t truncate Nigeria’s electoral process – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday said COVID-19 pandemic would not truncate Nigeria’s democracy and electoral process.
 
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this in Abuja in his remarks at the commission’s first virtual meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs)
 
Yakubu said that like it did to every other national institution, the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted INEC activities.

“For instance, further engagements with the National Assembly and stakeholders on electoral reform and the conduct of some off-season elections have to be suspended because of the global health emergency.

Happily, the PTF has issued guidelines on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide.

”On that basis, the commission recently released its own policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The commission is convinced that electoral activities can resume, but in full compliance with the advisory issued by health authorities.

Consequently, the Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for Sept. 19 and  Oct. 10 respectively, will proceed as planned,” he said.

Yakubu said that some political parties had notified the commission of the dates for their primaries which would lead to the nomination of their candidates for the elections.

According to him, while the commission takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, the democratic and electoral processes cannot be truncated because of it.

He said that this was because health authorities had advised on measures to protect the public from the virus, including all those involved in elections.

Yakubu said INEC was determined to hold some bye-elections ahead of Edo and Ondo state governorship to enable it to test-run and fine-tune its modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The INEC chairman said that already, the commission had directed the RECs for the nine states where the bye-elections would hold to begin preparations in earnest.

He said INEC was studying reports of recent elections conducted under COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Mali and South Korea, for lessons that would strengthen the processes and protect all those involved.

Yakubu said that in addition to the two governorship elections, the commission was also making preparations to conduct nine legislative bye-elections.

He said that the Senate President had declared four vacancies in the senate for Bayelsa Central Bayelsa East, Imo North and Plateau South seats.

The INEC boss also said that the Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly had declared vacant, the seat for Nasarawa Central State Constituency.

He said that the commission also had been informed of vacancies for the Cross River North Senatorial District, Borno’s Nganzai and Bayo Constituencies and Katsina State’s Bakori Constituency.

Yakubu said the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the five senatorial and four state assembly bye-elections across nine states would  involve 62 Local Government Areas (LGAs), 687 Registration Areas (RAs), 9,149 Polling Units (PUs) and 6,454,950 registered voters.

He remarked that the number of the registered voters for the elections was equivalent to the number that would be involved in holding general election in Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde put together.

 He said INEC would receive the input of its RECs to the new policy with particular reference to its implementation in the areas of recruitment, training of ad hoc staff, logistics for the deployment of personnel and materials, among others.



Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Heed NCDC guidelines on Edo, Ondo governorship polls, Group urges INEC

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An interest group, Governors Mandate Network (GMN), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to closely monitor political parties, ahead of Edo and Ondo elections, to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 prevention protocols.
The Chairman of GMN, Mr Osaro Onaiwu, made the call in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja.
He stressed the need for political parties to ensure strict compliance with the protocols established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent further spread of coronavirus before and during the governorship elections in the two states.
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very active in the country, adding that political parties and politicians must not be careless in their activities so as not to endanger the lives of Nigerians under the guise of electioneering.
Onaiwu said that the world was watching INEC on the way and manner it wanted to go about the governorship elections scheduled for September and October in Edo and Ondo states respectively.
“Anything short of a modest election process that will ensure minimum mass gathering will not be acceptable to health-conscious people,” he said.

Edited By: Francis Onyeukwu and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Politics

INEC to pilot use of electronic voting machines soon — Yakubu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to pilot the use of electronic voting machines at the earliest time possible towards full introduction of electronic voting in major elections in 2021.

The commission disclosed this in a policy document titled “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic” signed by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, officially released on Monday.

 The commission, however, clarified that such pilot scheme would not be used for Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for  Sept. 19 and Oct. 10, respectively.

Yakubu also disclosed the decision to suspend the Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) for the time being to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19.

He stressed on the need to continue to make available INEC’s electronic channels for voters to check their registration status.

“The Commission recognizes the critical role that ICT will play in an electoral process that is being vastly reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing demands by Nigerians for the deepening of the use of technology in our elections.

“Consequently, the Commission shall continue to apply relevant, value-for-money technology in all aspects of the electoral process and election management,” he said.

According to Yakubu, the policy also includes the creation of e-platforms for certain INEC activities, including accreditation of observer groups and deployment of their field observers.

He said activities to be conducted online also include submission of nomination forms by political parties for candidates, tracking and reporting of campaigns and campaign finance by/for candidates and political parties.

Others include submission of party agents lists by political parties, adding that in accreditation and deployment of observers, the Commission shall request and receive applications for election observation exclusively online.

“Reduce the number of accredited observer groups based on past performance and compliance with Commission’s guidelines for election observation.

“This is to reduce crowding and therefore health risks at election venues. Reduce the number of field

observers,” he said.

On health issues, Yakubu noted that the most immediate challenge that COVID-19 poses to the electoral process was health-related.

He stated that in order to protect voters, election officials and other stakeholders in the electoral process, the commission shall implement some measures.

They include supply and use infrared thermometers at the Registration Area Collation Centres, the Local Government Area Collation Centres and the State Collation Centres.

Also, “the use of face masks is mandatory for all involved in the election process and must be worn at all election locations.

“The Commission shall provide face masks for all election officials; and Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be provided for election officials at the polling units.

“Methylated Spirit and cotton wool will be provided for the disinfection of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) after the fingerprint of each voter is read.

“The rules of physical distancing shall be enforced at all election activities including stakeholder engagements, training, queuing at Polling Units, amongst others.”

Yakubu added that all protocols issued by the NCDC, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, State Committees on COVID-19 and other relevant health authorities should be observed by election officials and all stakeholders.

“The Commission shall work with the PTF and health authorities to have in place a system of voluntary COVID-19 testing for INEC staff before and after deploying for elections,” he said.

The INEC chairman added that the commission shall work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and health authorities in the states having elections to develop a protocol for dealing with persons who show symptoms of COVID-19 at election venues.

“Where an election official, a voter or any other person present at an election venue shows symptoms of COVID-19:

“The prevailing protocol shall be observed; the person must be isolated from other persons at the venue; the attention of the security personnel should be drawn;

“The dedicated number for COVID – 19 emergencies shall be called; and, if the affected person is an election official, the Commission must be notified through the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),” Yakubu stated.

Edited Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi

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Politics

INEC to redesign polling units to comply with COVID-19 regulations 

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Amidst COVID-19, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that Polling Units shall be redesigned by the Commission to ensure substantial compliance with the COVID-19 protocols established by health authorities.

INEC noted that, among other things, the redesign would emphasise social distancing, general hygienic conduct and enforcement of COVID-19 prevention protocols.

The commission disclosed this in a ‘Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ signed by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, released on Monday.

The INEC chairman noted that on election day, the use of face masks shall be mandatory at Polling Units (PUs) and all election locations, stating that any voter without a face mask shall be turned away from the Polling Unit.

“However, the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) II in checking the Register of Voters may request removal of mask to prevent voter impersonation.

“There shall be a two-tier queuing system at the Polling Unit – one outside and the other in the voting area. Voters will be brought into the voting area periodically to prevent overcrowding.

“Tags and twines may be used to ensure crowd control and maintenance of

social distance.

“In order to accommodate additional activities in setting up the PU due to COVID-19, polls shall now commence

at 8.30 am and close at 2.30 pm.

“Anybody on the outer queue by 2.30 pm shall be allowed to vote, in line with

the Commission’s regulations.

“Prior to the commencement of polls, the Presiding Officer or Assistant Presiding Officer (VP) shall ensure that the contents of the Voter Code of Conduct (VCC) are read out loudly to voters and that the VCC Poster is pasted at the polling unit,” Yakubu said.

He stated that there should be periodic disinfection of chairs, tables and work areas, as well as adequate ventilation at the Polling Units.

“The Smart Card Readers (SCR) shall be cleaned with the prescribed disinfectant after each voter’s fingerprint is read.

“Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other safety materials shall be provided for polling staff,” he said.

Yakubu added that at the close of polls, polling unit staff should ensure that materials were properly disinfected, carefully packaged and that used PPE were hygienically packaged or disposed of.

He explained that for purposes of collation of results after election the Commission would cluster Registration Area (RA) collation centres where feasible, in order to reduce exposure of people to the risk of COVID-19, speed up collation and reduce costs.

“In order to prevent overcrowding during collation, only one polling agent of a party on the ballot (or the candidate in person) for the election(s) shall be allowed into the collation hall,” he said.

On post-election activities, Yakubu stated that for reverse logistics, election staff must ensure that used, but reusable PPEs, were carefully packaged and sent to designated collection points.

“All post-election debriefings shall preferably be done electronically. Where face-to-face debriefings take place, the protocols for COVID-19 prevention shall be followed,” he said.

For pre-election activities, Yakubu stated that INEC should immediately embark on review of regulations, guidelines and manuals for elections in the light of changes to the electoral process that are imminent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Develop a Voter Code of Conduct (VCC) document detailing how voters are expected to act and conduct themselves at the polling units in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Review all Elections Information Kits to include COVID-19 information.

“Expand the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at all levels to include NCDC (or other requisite health bodies) and National Orientation Agency (NOA) on a temporary basis,” he said.

The INEC chairman mandated INEC state offices to work with local health authorities to do a health assessment of upcoming elections immediately.

“Conduct immediate discussion with  state governments where elections are to hold concerning lockdowns, curfews, etc, and how they might affect elections.

“Ensure that Pre-Election Preparation (PEP) activities shall be conducted online preferably.

“Where face-to-face activities become necessary, the protocols for COVID-19 prevention should be followed.

“Pilot changes to the electoral process in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic in a by-election prior to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections in order to learn lessons where necessary,” he said.

Yakubu explained that INEC has also made provision for handling and delivery of election materials.

One of the provisions, according to him, was to reduce the number of contacts during distribution.

He said when Non-sensitive Materials were procured, they would be delivered directly by vendors to States or purchased by States requiring the materials and packaged according to the quantity required by Registration Area.

“This will reduce the level and number of contacts during distribution,” he said.

He said that production of Sensitive Materials shall commence early to give adequate time for proper packaging and delivery.

Yakubu added that to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the commission should reduce to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and by-elections.

“The rule shall be that only shortfalls requested by the states are filled from outside the state. As much as possible, all election staff will be sourced in-state,” the INEC chairman said.

He added that in the establishment of voting points, in order to reduce the number of points in a Polling Unit to be monitored and controlled for COVID-19 compliance, the threshold for Voting Points shall be increased from 500/750 to 1,000/1,250.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Politics

COVID-19: INEC approves new policy framework for Edo, Ondo States

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday approved a new policy framework known as Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic.

The commission, in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman,

Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja said the policy document would be released on May 25.

Okoye said that the provisions would be applied to the conduct of governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for  Sept. 19 and Oct. 10, respectively, as well as other by-elections to be conducted soon in seven states.

 

“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.

“It is also 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, May 25, covers health and legal issues, election planning and operations, election day and post-election activities.

“It also covers 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.

“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,” he said.

Okoye also disclosed that in view of the end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo, INEC would flag off robust engagements with its critical stakeholders to present the policy document by meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on May 30.

He said that the meeting would be followed by that of political parties on June 1, civil society groups on June 2, and the media on June 3.

Okoye noted that in addition to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the commission had 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.

“As of today, the Commission is planning for nine by-elections across seven States of the Federation,” he said.

The by-elections are Bayelsa Central and West Senatorial Districts, Imo North Senatorial District,  Plateau South Senatorial District and Cross River North Senatorial District.

Others are Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State; Bayo State Constituency, Borno State; Nasarawa Central State Constituency, Nasarawa State; and 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,” Okoye added.

He urged all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols issued by the health authorities.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Politics

INEC to release policy framework for Edo, Ondo, future elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would on Thursday, May 21, release the policy framework for Edo and Ondo governorship elections, outstanding by-elections and future electoral activities.

The commission announced this in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Okoye reiterated INEC’s commitment to conduct of the two state governorship elections in accordance to the timetable and schedule of activities released on Feb. 6.

He said that the commission met on Tuesday and deliberated on a wide range of issues including the conduct of the states’ governorship elections and the nine outstanding bye-elections in different parts of the country.

“The commission deliberated extensively on a policy framework that will guide its operations, activities and engagements with critical stakeholders in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the electoral process in Nigeria.

“Based on this, the commission will, on Thursday, issue a policy framework for engagement with stakeholders, the conduct of the two end of tenure governorship elections, outstanding bye-elections and future electoral activities.

“The commission reiterated its commitment to conduct the Edo and Ondo governorship elections on Sept 19 and Oct. 10 as contained in the timetable and schedule of activities released on Feb. 6.

“We reassure Nigerians of our resolve and determination to provide the requisite guidance, innovation and leadership in conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The commission is committed to fulfilling its constitutional responsibility of conducting elections, without jeopardising the health and wellbeing of citizens, stakeholders or its valued staff,’’ Okoye said.

He explained that the commission would accelerate consultations and engagements with political parties, civil society organisations, security agencies and health authorities as soon as its policy framework is finalised.

He urged everyone to remain safe and healthy by complying with all the guidelines and protocols issued by the health authorities.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Health

INEC presents 20 vehicles to Sokoto Govt for Covid-19 contact tracing, surveillance

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented  20 Toyota Hilux pick-up vans to the Sokoto State Government for Covid-19 contact tracing, surveillance, laboratory and infection prevention.

INEC Head of Voter Education and Public Affairs in Sokoto, Malam Muhammad Musa, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Sokoto.

He said the vehicles were released according to a directive from the INEC National headquarters in Abuja.

Musa said that the commission will collaborate with other agencies and stakeholders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

”The vehicles were received by the Secretary to the state Government, Malam Sa’idu Umar, who thanked the commission for the support.

The spokesman said Umar expressed optimism that the vehicles would enable their teams on contact tracing, reaching the nooks and crannies of the state.

Speaking to NAN on the gesture, the Chairman, task force on Covid-19 and Commissioner for Health, Dr Ali Inname, assured that the vehicles would be maintained and used for the purposes they were meant for. 

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

 

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Politics

Ondo, Edo governorship polls:  INEC to work out modalities for resumption of stakeholders engagement

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said it would work out  modalities for resuming engagements with political parties, civil society groups and other stakeholders in relation to the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.

 

The commission disclosed this in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman,  Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja on Thursday.

 

Okoye said the commission met on Thursday and deliberated on the step-by-step protocol for its resumption of activities and operations.

He said that it deliberated on preparations for the conduct of the two states  governorship elections and other pending senatorial and state assembly bye elections.

“The commission will work out modalities for the ramping up of activities in two of the states where it has governorship elections (Edo and Ondo).”

INEC said it will liaise with security agencies and health authorities on resumption of work in the two states as soon as possible.

 “The commission will resume engagement with political parties, civil society groups and organisations, the media and other stakeholders in relation to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

“The modalities for these engagements will be worked out and considered at its next meeting on May 14, 2020.” he said.

The commission according to Okoye, however, directed  directors and other designated staff of the various departments to resume work at the INEC National Headquarters on Wednesday May 13.

He stated that guidelines would be issued for the phase of resumption for the staff members.

He noted that only staff below 58 years of age  with no serious underlying health issues would resume.

He said that pregnant women, nursing mothers and all other staff with underlying health conditions should remain at home for the time being.

He said  the commission resolved to carry out comprehensive decontamination of its national headquarters, annex at  Blantyre Street, the Electoral Institute and its Area 10 office housing its staff clinic.

Okoye said parts of the commission’s resolution at the meeting was “to follow the Federal Government Guidelines on resumption protocols and procedure”.

They include providing infrared thermometers, soap and water at entrances and installing hand sanitiser dispensers at strategic points in the commission.

Others are: “to train its staff, particularly the cleaners and office assistants on cleaning protocols and strict compliance with federal government guidelines as well as its own specific protocols for resumption.

“To issue comprehensive guidelines for the first phase of its resumption in compliance with the directives of the federal government and health authorities.

“These guidelines will be posted on its notice boards and uploaded on the website of the commission on Monday May 11.

“Directors and other designated Staff of the various departments will resume at the national headquarters on Wednesday May 13, after the decontamination of the premises and provision of necessary amenities.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Politics

COVID-19: INEC deploys 20 additional vehicles to Sokoto

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has deployed 20 additional vehicles to Sokoto State to assist the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 with  logistic needs in combating the Coronavirus pandemic in the state.

The commission disclosed this in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Okoye said the commission approved the deployment of the 20 additional vehicles from its fleet to assist the task force to achieve its avowed commitment to support the national effort at combating the  COVID-19 pandemic.

“The 20 additional pick up vans, which are being released at the request of the task force, will be deployed to Sokoto state to facilitate the movement of medical personnel for contact tracing.

“The commission will continue to collaborate with all agencies and stakeholders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the country,” he said.

Okoye appealed to all citizens to join in the efforts at combating the pandemic by complying with the advice of the medical authorities and observing all protocols and directives issued by them.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the commission had, so far,  deployed 159 of its vehicles to nine states for the movement of medical personnel, contact tracing, surveillance/laboratory testing and infection prevention/control in efforts to contain the pandemic.

INEC earlier on April 3, deployed about 100 vehicles to six states- Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Kano and Rivers States as well as FCT.

The commission later released 39 additional vehicles to Kano and Plateau States on April 29.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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