Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would meet today to review the situation in its offices across the country and take a decision on whether or not to review the dates and guidelines for the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Osun states.
The commission was also expected to fix dates for the elections to fill vacant senatorial, House of Representatives and state Houses of Assembly seats nationwide.
It would also clarify the resumption modules of activities that would be adopted at the meeting in line with the announcement by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, had said the commission would meet today to take decisions on these issues.
Okoye said the meeting would deliberate on some issues, including preparations for the conduct of governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020, respectively; the forthcoming by-elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau states and plans for resumption of normal activities at the commission’s offices nationwide.
The electoral body had before the outbreak of the pandemic fixed September 19 for the governorship election in Edo and October 10 for the gubernatorial poll in Ondo State.
In the timetable for the election activities for Edo State governorship election, INEC stated that the conduct of primary election and resolution of disputes arising from primaries would be between June 2 and 27, while the campaign would start on June 21.
INEC had fixed September 17 for the end of the 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.”
Okoye, however, urged all stakeholders to wait for further communication from the commission on the resumption of normal activities.
He said the commission understood and appreciated the need for timely resumption of activities in view of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states and the by-elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Plateau states.
The commission would be conducting by-elections in three constituencies as a result of the deaths of some serving members of the national and state legislatures.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had also declared vacant the seat for Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency of Niger State.
It added that the Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly had also declared vacant the seat for Patigi State Constituency, while the Speaker of Sokoto State House of Assembly had also declared Kebbe State Constituency seat vacant.
INEC had said these by-elections would hold simultaneously in the three states on March 14.
But these dates have been overtaken by the effects of the pandemic and a new date was expected to be announced by the commission.
Apart from these, there are outstanding by-elections in two senatorial districts in Bayelsa State to replace the governor and deputy governor who were senators before November 16, 2019 gubernatorial election.
The incumbent Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, represented Bayelsa Central, while his deputy, Senator Ewhrudjakpo, represented Bayelsa West.
INEC was also expected to announce dates to fill the vacancies as a result of the death of Senators Ignatius Longjan (Plateau South Senatorial District); Rose Okoh (Cross River) and Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo).