The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ordered the immediate resumption of activities in its offices in Edo and Ondo states due to the upcoming governorship polls in the two states.
The commission, however, said the reopening of the offices must be done in consultation with the relevant State Governments for issuance of necessary permits.
The directives were contained in the “Guidelines for Resumption After COVID-19 Lockdown” issued by the commission on Wednesday in Abuja.
INEC had slated September 19, 2020, for the governorship election in Edo State while that of Ondo State was fixed for October 10, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the nation, the commission on March 23 suspended meetings with political parties, and other stakeholders indefinitely.
It would be recalled that the commission also postponed the Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa West, Imo North, and Plateau South Senatorial bye-elections following the outbreak of the disease.
But INEC had insisted that it would not postpone the Edo and Ondo governorship elections on account of the COVID-19 outbreak, hence the latest directive to reopen the state offices.
According to the electoral body, the new guidelines though, consistent with those issued by the Federal government, reflected peculiarities of the commission nationwide and would affect the operation of the commission after the COVID-19 lockdown, and throughout the pandemic emergency.
The commission further mulled the combination of virtual and physical meetings to minimize
physical contacts where necessary.
It said: “Re-opening of State and Local Government Area (LGA) 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 upcoming gubernatorial elections in consultation with the relevant State Governments for issuance of necessary permits.
“Funds required to meet the hygiene protocols (decontamination, Hand sanitizers etc) will be made available to these two state 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 LGA offices should remain closed and open only where/when necessary.
“All meetings in the Commission should be limited to key participants and the duration of meetings be reduced to the necessary minimum.
“Where necessary a combination of virtual and physical meetings should be held to minimize physical contacts; Zoom, Skype, Webinars and other Virtual interactive techniques will be explored and employed to meet internally and with external stakeholders.
“Commission meetings and other meetings should be held at the Conference Hall or any other outsourced hall where the two (2) meter social distance can be maintained. Wearing of face mask is compulsory at every meeting and meeting venues must be decontaminated before and after every meeting”.
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