The Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) has 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 Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman, information and Voter Education Committee, 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 September 19 and October 10, respectively, as well as other by-elections to be conducted soon in seven states.
He further 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.
The INEC Commissioner stressed 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 States Houses of Assembly.
According to the statement, “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 coronavirus, 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,” he further said.