INEC orders resumption of activities in Edo, Ondo offices

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ordered immediate resumption of activities in its Edo and Ondo states offices due to the governorship polls coming up later this year.

It, however, said reopening of the offices must be done in consultation with the state governments for issuance of necessary permits.

The directives were contained in the “Guidelines for Resumption After COVID-19 Lockdown issued by the commission in Abuja in which INEC scheduled September 19, 2020 for the Edo governorship election, while that of Ondo State was fixed for October 10, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had on March 23, 2020 suspended meetings with political parties, and other stakeholders indefinitely and also postponed the Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Imo North and Plateau South Senatorial bye-elections following outbreak of coronavirus.

But INEC had insisted that it would not postpone the Edo and Ondo governorship polls on account of the COVID-19 outbreak, hence the latest directive to reopen the states’ offices.

The electoral body explained that though consistent with those issued by the Federal Government, the new guidelines reflected peculiarities of the commission nationwide and would affect its operations after the COVID-19 lockdown and as long as the pandemic lasted.

INEC further said there would be a combination of virtual and physical meetings to minimise physical contacts where necessary, adding that re-opening of state and council offices will depend on existing lockdown guidelines issued by the respective state governments.

“Ondo and Edo state offices should re-open immediately due to the gubernatorial elections in consultation with the state governments for issuance of necessary permits.

“Funds required to meet the hygiene protocols (decontamination, hand sanitisers and other) will be made available to the offices as soon as possible, and to all other state offices as the need arises.

“State offices should liaise with the various state COVID-19 Response secretariats on decontamination protocols for their respective states and council offices should remain closed and open only when necessary. All meetings of the commission should be limited to key participants and the duration of meetings reduced to the necessary minimum.

“Where necessary, a combination of virtual and physical meetings should be held to minimise physical contacts, while Zoom, Skype, Webinars and other Virtual interactive techniques will be used to meet internal and external stakeholders,” it added.

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