No Plans to Shift Edo, Ondo Gov Polls, INEC Insists

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Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday reaffirmed its plans to go ahead with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States as scheduled, notwithstanding the disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voters’ Education and Information, Mr. Festus Okoye, told THISDAY in Abuja that the commission had not met to discuss a possible shift in the dates slated for the elections.

INEC had earlier fixed September 19, 2020 for the governorship election in Edo State while that of Ondo State was fixed for October 10, 2020.

He said before releasing the dates for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections adequate provisions were made, stressing that the commission had not met to consider any new dates.
In a statement he later issued yesterday, Okoye also reiterated the position of INEC.

He said: “The commission wishes to inform the general public that no decision has been taken to postpone the Edo and Ondo governorship elections or adjust the timetable and schedule of activities for the said elections scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.

“It will be recalled that the commission on February 6, 2020 released the timetable and schedule of activities for the two elections. Since then, the timetable has not been adjusted. While we are mindful of the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease, we are also monitoring the various efforts by the federal and state governments’ health authorities and other stakeholders to contain the spread of and eliminate COVlD-l9.

“If and when the need arises to adjust the timetable for the elections, same will be conveyed to the public in the usual manner. In the meantime, we will continue to study the situation carefully and cooperate with other stakeholders in the battle against COVID-19.”

In the timetable for the election activities for Edo governorship election, INEC stated that the conduct of primary election and resolution of disputes arising from primaries would be between 2nd of June to 27th of June while campaign would begin on June 21.

Also, INEC fixed September 17, for the end of campaign, stating that “Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides 90 days for the commencement of campaigns by political parties and end of same 24 hours before polling day.”

For Ondo State, the commission fixed July 2 to 25 for the conduct of primary election and resolution of disputes arising from primaries “to enable political parties democratically nominate candidates for the election as required by Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010.”

The electoral commission fixed October 8, for the end of the campaign while the election would be on October 10.
There is apprehension that the outbreak of COVID-19 may affect the conduct of the governorship election in the two states.

Also, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, has described insinuation that the electoral body will change the dates as speculative and incorrect, adding it gives a totally wrong impression.
Oyekanmi said the decision to change the dates already announced for the elections was a serious matter, which only the commission could take.