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COVID-19: How we’ll conduct Edo, Ondo polls – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the policy it developed on the conduct of elections during coronvirus would assist in the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, who appeared at the media briefing of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said the policy had been test run in a by-election in the Nasarawa Central State constituency in Nasarawa State last month.
“This is a small constituency made up of 44 polling units and 36 voting points making a total of 80 voting points.
“All the protocols enumerated in our policy were practically implemented and the overall result is very encouraging.
“We are going into Edo next week assured that we have test run our preparations for voting under the COVID-19 pandemic,” Prof. Yakubu boasted.
The INEC Chairman, who noted that conduct of elections under COVID-19 is an unchartered territory, said the commission identified eight protective measures from the national policy on COVID-19, which he said, ranged from the mandatory use of face masks, hand sanitizers, use of methylated spirit and cotton wool to clean the smart card readers after the fingerprint of each voter is read; rules of physical distancing, the use of infrared thermometers and procedures for handling voters and election officials showing COVID-19 symptoms.
He stressed that the use of face mask is mandatory for every voter during the elections, but explained that INEC was not insisting on the use of medical face masks.
“We need to emphasize that we are not asking for the kind of face mask I’m wearing, not surgical face mask, but face covering will be sufficient for the voter to be accredited and to vote,” he said.
He assured that the voters would be required to maintain physical distancing, disclosing that the commission introduced two queues: one outside the polling area and the other inside the polling area.
“Within the inner queue, voters must maintain the mandatory two meters or six feet distance from each other.
“And we clearly mark this in one of the by-elections we conducted last month… Furthermore, voters must avoid touching surfaces or leaning on walls at polling units to vote,” he said.
Speaking specifically on Edo State where the commission will conduct governorship election next week, Prof. Yakubu said INEC is working with the state response team.
He said the Commission had held meeting with the permanent secretary, Ministry of Health, disclosing that contact details of officials in Benin City and in all the local government areas the commission could immediately contact on election day for emergency response, had been supplied to them.
He said the people have been sensitised through mass production of materials, which have been delivered to the states where elections will be conducted.

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