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INEC recruits 26,000 ad-hoc staff for Kogi ,Bayelsa elections

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(NAN)The Independent National Electoral Commission,(INEC), says it has commenced the process of recruiting and training  26,000 ad -hoc staff for the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure in Abuja on Wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC.

He said the ad -hoc staff comprised members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other Nigerians.

On security, he said the commission was working with security agencies and other stakeholders in the concerned states to ensure adequate provision of security.

He said INEC had also made provision for funding of the elections in the 2019 budget, noting that the commission had no complain on funding the elections.

Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Sen .Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano) said Senate would begin process of amending the Electoral Act.

“The very essence of this maiden meeting is to inform the INEC officials and the general public that the committee is prepared to once again, kick start the process of amending the Electoral Act No. 6. 2010.”

He said the amendment was to correct the loopholes noticed during the 2019 general elections and strengthen the operation of INEC to discharge its constitutional responsibilities.

This, he said, would promote transparency in the electoral processes via effective electoral laws that would guarantee conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in Nigeria.

“We must bear in mind that credible democracy is anchored on credible electoral laws.

“That is why all hands must be on deck to fashion out effective and credible laws that will fortify and guarantee our electoral process, which the legislature is determined to achieve,“ he said.

He said the committee was aware of the challenges observed by key stakeholders during the last general elections.

“One of such challenges is the issue of having too many registered political parties.

“It is my view that we trim them to a maximum of 5 political parties, based on stringent conditions for registration.

“We will discuss as a committee and extend to public hearing subsequently.

“Other challenges are identified culture of electoral offences- impunity, electoral violence, vote buying, snatching of election materials by thugs, inducement, corruption by electoral officers and too many pre and post-election cases in our courts.”

Gaya said there was need to also propose the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission, to reduce infractions and enable INEC conduct free, fair and credible elections.

“The issue of INEC staff welfare and wellbeing must be looked into by increasing their salaries and allowances to keep them motivated and reduce possible inducement by some unscrupulous politicians.” (NAN)

KC/DUA

Edited by Dada Ahmed

Judiciary

Court reaffirms INEC’s power to deregister political parties

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Friday  reaffirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, delivering judgment in a suit filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) against INEC, reaffirmed that the commission was empowered by the 1999 Constitution to deregister political parties that failed to meet provisions of Section 225(a) of the constitution.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that HDP had approached the court challenging the powers of INEC to deregister it as a political party.

The party also prayed the court to declare that INEC had no powers to deregister it as a political party except in accordance with the law.

The party further asked the court for an order for INEC to relist it as a political party in Nigeria.

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo held that HDP fell short of Section 225(a) and also had nothing to show to the court that the action of INEC to deregister it as a political party was unconstitutional.

According to the judge, he who asserts must prove but the plaintiff (HDP) fails to prove to the court that INEC acted unlawfully by deregistering it as a political party.

The court held that “the case of the plaintiff is weak and cannot be granted the reliefs sought. The law is that the plaintiff succeeds on the merit of his case and not that the defence is weak.

“The plaintiff has the onus to prove its case but has failed to show to the court that it met the requirements of Section 225(a).

“The plaintiff ought to give particulars of malice when it alleged that it was deregistered out of malice. The court is not a father Christmas to grant reliefs that have not been sought.

“I find that the deregistering of HDP as a political party was lawfully done and it has terminated the legal existence of HDP as a political party.” the judge said.

HDP has however vowed to appeal the judgment.

NAN also recalls that on May 28, Justice Taiwo had in another judgment delivered in the suit filed by the National Unity Party (NUP) against INEC, affirmed the electoral umpire’s powers to deregister political parties.

NUP was one of the 74 parties deregistered by the INEC in February.

The court affirmed that the constitutional powers of the commission and the reasons given by the commission for deregistering political parties were valid, in conformity with the law and sacrosanct.

The court further held that INEC’s powers could not be affected by the fact of anticipated local government elections by some states which dates were not fixed, certain or even ascertainable.


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

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COVID-19: INEC seeks review of security architecture for elections

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The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday, called for the review of security architecture for elections, in the light of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Yakubu, in his remarks during the first virtual consultative meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee On Election Security (ICCES), said there was need to come up with clear guidelines supplementary Code of Conduct, for security personnel on election duty.

Yakubu said that the recently released INEC’s policy on conducting elections under the current global pandemic, was anchored on the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), based on the advisory by health authorities.

“The guidelines provide for measures to protect the electoral process and the people involved, ranging from the election officials, observers, the media and above all, the voters.

“Doing so will also increase public confidence and consequently enhance the credibility of the electoral process.

“To do so effectively, there is need to review the security architecture in the light of the global pandemic and come up with clear guidelines, as well as supplementary Code of Conduct for security personnel on election duty.

 “As the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic will impact on the planning and deployment strategy for the conduct of elections generally, it is necessary for ICCES to evolve effective ways of securing and protecting the integrity of the electoral process.

“Fortunately, in the aftermath of recent governorship elections, ICCES set up an ad hoc committee to advise it on security arrangements for future elections.

“The report of the committee, which will be presented for consideration at this meeting, is coming at an auspicious time.

“We should, as a matter of urgency, come up with a policy and code of conduct for security personnel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Yakubu said.

He disclosed that 15 out of 18 registered political parties had invited the commission to monitor their primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo Governorship, while the process for Ondo governorship election would be between July 2 to  July 25.

Yakubu, who said there were already warning signals the parties primaries for the elections were going to be acrimonious, called on security agencies to be proactive by meeting  early, with political parties and aspirants for peaceful primaries and elections.

“As you are aware, the conduct of primaries by political parties tends to be very acrimonious.

“The acrimony is carried forward into the electioneering campaigns and Election Day activities. Already, there are warning signals. The security agencies need to act proactively.

“An early engagement with political parties and aspirants is necessary in order to create the atmosphere for peaceful primaries and consequently peaceful elections,” he said.

He assured that INEC would continue to deepen the use of technology in the management of the country’s  electoral process, including ICCES meetings and other engagements with security agencies.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, called on security agencies to ensure that Edo and Ondo governorship elections as well as by-elections were conducted without rancour.

Monguno, represented by Galadima Yusuf, expressed optimism that the pandemic would soon be over and there would be peaceful conduct of elections.


Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Politics

INEC to voters: Don’t wear party-branded face masks to polling units

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Ahead of the governorship elections scheduled to hold on Sept. 19 and Oct. 10, INEC has warned voters in Edo and Ondo against wearing face masks with the logo of their political parties, to polling units.

Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee (EOLC), gave the warning on Wednesday in Abuja, during the commission’s first virtual consultative meeting with media organisations.

“Wearing of face masks to polling units will be compulsory, but any voter with branded face masks will be turned back from the polling unit,” he said.

He, however, said that INEC would not provide or share face masks to voters during polls.

Ibeanu, in his presentation at the meeting presided over by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the commission could not afford the cost of providing face masks to registered voters in the states.

According to him, it will cost not less than N640 million to provide face masks to all registered voters for the elections.

INEC cannot provide these face masks. If we were to provide these masks for the registered voters, we are talking about 6.4 million voters.

“Even if you handed out masks costing N100, that is about N640 million already.

So, should INEC be spending N640 million handing out masks that voluntary organisations and government agencies can actually give to people, if we had a national campaign for this purpose?” Ibeanu asked.

He, however, urged the media to sensitise people on the need for individuals and organisations to donate and distribute face masks to the people, not just during elections but at all times.

“It is not just about the election. It is just that it will help in the circumstances of the pandemic.

“I don’t think anybody in Nigeria should not have access to face masks now. But the more important thing is that people can also improvise and they need to understand that they can do so,” he added.

The national commissioner also said that the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) and the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), before the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well other by-elections would not be feasible.

Ibeanu said that there was no need for the distribution of the PVCs before the elections as the nation just came out of a general elections last year.

Since the 2019 general elections, there has not been new CVR. If the collection of the PVCs is allowed for Edo and Ondo polls, the same demand will be made for bye-elections, causing other challenges.

“So, after much consideration, we decided not to allow collection of PVCs before the elections,” he said.

He disclosed that with the new policy document on conducting elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, voting would commence at 8.30 am and close by 2.30pm as against the usual 8 am to 2pm.

Another National Commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, also said that the commission did not envisage the postponement of any election because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, said that INEC was  determined to be part and, indeed, lead the process of innovation and creativity in the electoral process.

He said that the commission would not throw in the towel and postpone all elections to an indeterminate period.

“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 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States and the 10  Senatorial and State Assembly elections.

”These exercises will  be done with caution, bearing in mind that the health and safety of the people will be crucial determinants of the success or otherwise of the elections,” Okoye said.


Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu and Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)

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Judiciary

Deregistration: INEC asks court to dismiss 31 political parties’ application

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday, prayed a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to strike out the prayers of deregistered 31 political parties, saying “their application is frivolous.”

Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar, SAN, told Justice Anwuli Chikere at the hearing of the substantive suit challenging the deregistration of political parties.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that INEC had, on Feb. 6, deregistered 74 political parties, leaving 18 others.

However, in a motion on notice with suit number: FHC//ABJ/ CS/444/19 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and 32 others Vs. Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC (1st and 2nd respondents respectively) the applicants approached the court for restraining order.

Although 33 political parties filed the matter in court, two of the parties; Labour Party (LP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) were later dropped from the suit because the parties were not deregistered by INEC.

Justice Chikere had, on May 29, fixed June 3 to hear the substantive matter.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Chinedu Obienu announced his appearance for the party seeking to be joined in the suit.

Obienu told the judge that his client, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) was also affected by INEC’s action and that they sought to be joined in the suit in order to avoid case multiplicity.

“We have a motion on notice dated and filed on March 4, praying for the order of this honourable court joining the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) as a plaintiff which was purportedly deregistered on the 6th day of February, 2020, by the 2nd defendant.

“The prayers of the plaintiffs are the same with the prayers of the applicant and we do this so that there will be no multiplicity of suit.

We have a 34-paragraph affidavit and 10 exhibits. We have filed a written address for this motion and we urge this court to grant this application in the interest of justice to join others against the 2nd defendant,” he said.

The lawyer told the court that the plaintiffs and the defendant had been served with their motion.

Counsel to the 31 political parties, Kehinde Edun, and INEC’s Lawyer, Umar, did not oppose the application.

When Edun told the court of his intention to take his application on order of interim injunction granted by the court on Feb. 17, restraining INEC from deregistering the parties pending the determination of the matter, Justice Chikere turned down the request, saying: “We are going to substantive suit today.”

According to Edun, the order was to undo what the 2nd defendant has done.

The judge said though she understood the argument of the lawyer, “I cannot treat interlocutory injunction and substantive suit together. Let us go to the substantive suit and address the matter.”

Chikere stated further that part of her ruling on Feb. 17 was to take the substantive suit.

Edun, then, moved his motion on the amended originating summon dated Oct 29, 2019 and filed on Oct 30, 2019.

My Lord, there are five issues for determination and we are asking for seven reliefs as it appears on the amended originating summon.

My Lord, we also have a 45-paragraph affidavit in support and we adopt the written address attached,” he said.

Edun also informed the court that a further affidavit was filed on June 1 with 23 paragraphs and a written address to counter INEC’s response.

According to him, we are not saying that the 2nd defendant (INEC) has no power to deregister; our contention is that this power has not accrued.

Quoting the relevant section of the law, Edun said: “You don’t condemn a man unheard.”

He said the political parties had not breached the sections of the law that allowed for the deregistration of a party after all governorship, chairmanship and counsellorship elections must have been heard.

On his part, Umar said INEC filed a counter affidavit to the amended originating summons.

“We filed it on Feb 24 and we rely on all the positions therein. We also filed a written address on Feb. 24 and we rely on this as our argument in the case,” he said.

The lawyer, who described the further affidavit and written address of the plaintiffs as “incompetent,” told the court to discountenance the applications.

He argued that the plaintiffs were served on Feb. 24 but only replied to their counter affidavit on Tuesday.

He said by virtue of Order 13 Rule 50 of the court which gave them 14 days to respond to a counter affidavit, he urged the court to discountenance the application.

He argued that the plaintiffs neither asked for an extension of time to file their application nor proffered their facts in accordance with Section 115(2) of the Evidence Act.

Umar reminded the court that Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a judgment delivered on May 18 in a suit number: /211/2020 between National Unity Party (NUP) and INEC, had settled the matter.

“Your learned brother, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, has settled this issues in a very recent decision,” he said.

He said that Justice Taiwo overruled the NUP in its argument that the power of the electoral umpire to deregister them was not exercisable.

He said that there was no provision in the constitution for INEC to communicate its intention to any political party that did not meet the requirements.

My Lord, their applications are frivolous and lack merit. They have no material at all.

“We urge this honourable court to dismiss the application. It is a distraction to the electoral process,” Umar remarked.

Responding, Edun, though admitted that the further affidavit was filed behind scheduled time, argued that INEC also filed its counter affidavit behind scheduled time.

“Once your own is granted, ours too should be granted,” he stated.

Justice Chikere, after listening to the counsel, adjourned the matter until June 11 for judgment.

The affected parties are Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) All Blending Party (ABP) All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP) Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP) Democratic People’s Congress (DPC) Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Green Party of Nigeria (GPN)  among others.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Politics

Elections: INEC to implement measures to mitigate COVID-19 impact – Yakubu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerians that it would continue to adopt and implement measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s electoral activities.

 

 

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday gave the assurance at the commission’s first virtual consultative meeting with media organisations.

Yakubu solicited media cooperation and support in disseminating required information that would help to protect the health of voters and all those involved in electoral activities.

According  to him,  as usual, the Commission welcomes media comments and suggestions, as critical stakeholders involved in reporting and analysing our democracy and electoral process.

As citizens, the Commission believes that your opinions and suggestions will be of immense benefit to our electoral activities.

The Commission, therefore, values your contributions to policy formulation and implementation,” he said.

Yakubu said that COVID-19 pandemic had necessitated a rethink of many activities that had been taken for granted.

“With regard to the conduct of elections, the world is clearly sailing through uncharted waters.

“Only a few countries have conducted elections since the reported outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019.

“However, health authorities have issued guidelines on protective measures against the spread of the virus and the response to any emergencies that may occur,” Yakubu said.

Pledging INEC’s continued partnership with the media on voter education, the INEC boss disclosed that an online portal had been set up for media accreditation for Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.

According  to him,  the Commission has always accredited media organisations to cover elections and to ensure your unimpeded access to voting locations and collation centres.

The forthcoming Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections as well as many bye-elections across the country will not be different.

“However, in tandem with the new health reality, accreditation of media organisations for these elections will be done online through a dedicated portal,” Yakubu said.

He pledged the commission’s commitment to continue to ensure that media carried out their responsibilities without any form of hindrance.

The President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, in his remarks, commended the steps taken so far by the INEC in conducting elections during pandemic.

Isiguzo pledged the continued support of the media for successful elections.

He, however, called on the commission to give the same support to the media, especially for them to carry out their responsibilities without any form of harassment by the security agencies.

 


Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Politics

INEC seeks CSOs’ inputs on new policy to guarantee voters’ safety

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought the contributions of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to its new policy on conducting elections during  the COVID-19 pandemic, in a way that would guarantee safety and security of voters.

The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the request at his first virtual consultative meeting with CSOs on Tuesday.

Yakubu described the document recently released by the commission as a living document which required the input of stakeholders for its effective implementation.

I urge CSOs to consider this policy as a living document,  hence the decision to engage with you on how we can strengthen it in a manner that will further engender public confidence.

“On how to encourage greater citizens’ participation in the electoral process and, most importantly, guarantee the safety and security of voters in the process of exercising their democratic rights to vote.

” Your comments and contributions to the 10 items listed in the policy document and consequential amendments to the 2019 Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections are critical.

” I wish to reassure you that they will be taken into consideration in reviewing the policy as well as the regulations where necessary.

“In addition, we also welcome your input into the implementation of the policy before, during and after the election,” he said.

Yakubu said the engagement with civil society organisations remained at the core of the commission’s electoral process, assuring that the commission would continue to deepen such engagement.

Speaking on INEC’s preparations for Edo governorship election, the chairman disclosed that as usual, CSOs would be accredited to observe the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well as the upcoming by-elections

“However, in the spirit of deepening the use of technology in our electoral process and also in line with the new reality of conducting electoral activities under the COVID-19 pandemic, accreditation of observers will be done online.

“A dedicated portal has been created by the commission for this purpose and you will be briefed at this meeting on the new procedure.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)

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Edo Gov Poll: INEC set up dedicated portal for form submission 

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has set up a dedicated portal through which political parties contesting for Edo governorship scheduled for Sept 19, will submit the nomination forms of their candidates.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday, during  the first virtual consultative meeting of the commission with leaders of political parties.

 

Yakubu, however, warned political parties against changes in the date for the conduct of their primaries for the election, as the portal would be automatically shutdown on the scheduled dates.

 

 

“Party primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo Governorship election begin tomorrow. Already, some political parties have invited the commission to monitor their primaries which must be conducted from 2nd to 27th June 2020.

” This time around, the submission of nomination forms will be done online for which a dedicated portal has been set up.

“Let me therefore warn political parties that intend to field candidates for the election to strictly adhere to these dates as well as the new online procedure for filing of nominations. Any party that operates outside these dates will only have itself to blame.

“The portal will automatically shutdown on the scheduled date and at the fixed hour. The Legal Department and ICT will brief this meeting on the new procedure,” Yakubu said.

The chairman advised parties on the need to conduct rancour-free primaries, and to  avoid acts of thuggery, brigandage, vote-buying and other sundry violations of the Electoral Act.

Yakubu also directed parties that opted for direct primaries to provide the commission with the list of their registered members, while those going for indirect primaries must also provide INEC with the list of their delegates.

“As we monitor the conduct of party primaries, we will pay particular attention to your compliance with the law and to consider sanctions so that the unruly behaviour of some party supporters is not carried forward to the main election.

“At the same time, I wish to appeal to political parties that opt for direct primaries to avail us with the register of members to be used for the election from Ward to Local Government and State levels for the effective discharge of our monitoring responsibilities under the law.

“Those that opt for indirect primaries should similarly make available to the commission,  the list of delegates for the election. Doing otherwise will amount to going into an election without the voters’ register.

“The commission makes available to each political party, the complete register of voters before every major election. We expect political parties to reciprocate for their primaries,” he said.

Yakubu disclosed that the commission had already carried out the first out of the 14 activities it lined up for Edo governorship election, as the notice for the election (Form EC60A) had been pasted in its Edo state office.

The INEC chairman, who stressed the need for a national conversation around the frequency of bye-elections in Nigeria, said in the month of May 2020 alone, five members of State Houses of Assembly passed on.

He added that since December 2019, a period of six months, twelve members of the National and State Houses of Assembly had similarly passed on.

“This is in addition to the resignation of two Senators from Bayelsa who have since been sworn-in as Governor and Deputy Governor of the state.

“The cost of conducting these bye-elections to the commission, the security agencies, political parties and candidates, election observers, the media, litigations (both pre-election and post-election) and disruption of activities as a result of the restriction of movement on election day is enormous.

“There is no election season in Nigeria any longer. The commission is busy conducting elections all-year round between one general election and another.

“This often diverts our attention away from reform, innovation, peer learning and planning for the consolidation of our electoral process.

“The commission is going to open a discussion with stakeholders and the National Assembly for necessary reforms toward more cost-effective and democratic options,” he said.

Yakubu welcomed the input of party leaders to the new policy for conducting elections under the COVID-19 pandemic recently released by the commission.

In his response, Interim National Chairman, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Leonard Nzenwa, commended INEC for its policy for conducting elections under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nzenwa, who is also the National Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC), said organising elections in a pandemic era and in an national emergency period would no doubt be an uphill task.

” For undertaking elections in normal period has never been easy, and definitely will not be less daunting this season.

“It is in the light of this, we, the political parties will  want to commend INEC for the bold step it has taken to come up early with a well-heeled policy on conducting elections in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

” Indeed, the measures outlined to tame the scourge in the document is realistic, exhaustive, health-sensitive, safety-induced and in tune with reality of the times.

“Our checks so far show that globally,   INEC is the first national election organising body to have done this, not even USA, India, Pakistan has codified effort to respond maximally, politics-wise to the pandemic in an enclosed one-all document as it did. And this was done swiftly!

“It is also gratifying to note that the document received  wide commendation across board and is now being  referenced. And last week we commended the commission via a plethora of media for its effort.

“From high-end issues as health and safety concerns, legal matters, election planning and implementation to elections operations to materials handling, staff management and ad hoc recruitment

” Placement to logistic, transportation and passenger management to queuing arrangement in polling units, crucial areas in pre and post election preparation and management were properly captured,” he said.

Nzenwa,  however, called on INEC to be ready, and willing to review some aspects of the policy document regarding  concerned misgivings by stakeholders who strongly felt that some of its provisions might not be feasible when it was lifted from paper for implementation.

He expressed the resolve of IPAC to work with INEC in deepening engagement with all stakeholders, especially the electorate by properly informing them about their roles and responsibilities during election in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged INEC to ensure that minimal discomfort was imposed on voters and other stakeholders in its quest to ensure that the nation had credible and acceptable polls during the Edo, Ondo and other by-elections.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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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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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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