COVID-19: INEC Says Edo, Ondo Elections on Course

COVID-19: INEC Says Edo, Ondo Elections on Course

…Assures No Cause for Anxiety …Reveals Conduct of the Two Governorship Elections Are Constitutionally Circumscribed With Inbuilt Mechanism for Adjustment …Says It’s Confident Health Authorities Will Contain Virus Spread Fears that the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections earlier slated to hold on September 19 and October 10 this year respectively, may be altered against the

…Assures No Cause for Anxiety

…Reveals Conduct of the Two Governorship Elections Are Constitutionally Circumscribed With Inbuilt Mechanism for Adjustment

Says It’s Confident Health Authorities Will Contain Virus Spread

Fears that the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections earlier slated to hold on September 19 and October 10 this year respectively, may be altered against the background of the raging Coronavirus pandemic, has been dispelled by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The suspicion was heightened after the Commission shifted the Senatorial bye-elections for Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau States as a result of the pandemic which has already seen over 30 cases spread in Lagos, Ogun, Katsina, Oyo, Edo, Ekiti and Abuja, the nation’s capital according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The pandemic which has led to the shutting of international flights, schools, entertainment places and restrictions of religious worships and other social gathering has put the entire world in a virtual lockdown, has witnessed over 300,000 cases leading to 10,000 deaths across 192 countries of the world.

While only one death has so far been recorded in Nigeria with 36 cases, the figures have been alarming particularly in Italy, the worse hit European country, which has now overtaken China in terms recorded deaths from the virus, posting more than 800 deaths in one day alone.

But INEC dismissed the insinuations, insisting that the Edo and Ondo governorship elections will go ahead as scheduled.

National Commissioner and Chairman Voters’ Education and Information Committee,  Mr Festus Okoye, said, “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not contemplating, planning or thinking of shifting, postponing or on anyway tampering with or adjusting the timetable and timelines for the conduct of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.

“The Commission is confident that the health authorities and the Nigerian people will contain and overcome its present health emergency before the commencement of major activities relating to the conduct of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections scheduled for 19th September and 10th October 2020.”

He continued that, “the two major activities in Edo and Ondo States that involves a large congregation of persons will commence in June 2020. The conduct of Party Primaries in Edo State will start on the June 2 and end on June 27, 2020 while the commencement of campaign by political parties in public will start on June 21, 2020. For Ondo Governorship Election, the conduct of Party Primaries will start on July 2 and end on the July 27, 2020 while campaigns by Political Parties will commence on July 13, 2020.

“We are confident that the nation will contain and possibly overcome its present health challenges even before the issuance of the statutory notice of elections for Edo Governorship election on the 1st day of June and that of Ondo on July 1, 2020.

“The conduct of the two elections are constitutionally circumscribed with inbuilt mechanism for adjustment within the confines and ambit of the constitutionally circumscribes timeframes.

“We assure the nation that the processes and procedures for the conduct of the two Governorship elections are on course and there is no cause for any form of anxiety. The Commission is not thinking of or contemplating any shift or postponement of the two elections,” says Okoye.

The INEC had on Thursday postponed the bye-elections for some senatorial districts in Bayelsa, Imo, and Plateau States because of Coronavirus.

A statement issued by Mr Okoye, said the bye-elections would take place in Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West where the seats became vacant following the election of Mr Douye Diri and Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as Governor and Deputy Governor of the state respectively.

The Imo North District seat became vacant following the death of Mr Benjamin Uwajumogu, the same with Plateau South District whose senator, Mr Longjan Datong, had also died.

The postponement of the bye-elections, according to INEC, became necessary because of the “health emergency occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

The Commission said it would release the timetable and schedule of activities for the bye-elections as soon as the Coronavirus subsides.

The statement read: “Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) empowers the election commission to postpone any election in the event of an emergency or national disaster.

“The Commission is compelled to take this step in recognition of the fact that all major activities in the electoral process involve a large gathering of people. These include the conduct of party primaries, campaigns, stakeholder meetings, training, and deployment of election and security personnel, movement of accredited observers and journalists, the congregation of voters and other stakeholders at polling units, as well as the collation centres.

“While the Commission acknowledges the rights and desire of citizens for effective representation, there is an overriding public interest in ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of all stakeholders,” the INEC Commissioner said.

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