By Chuks Okocha
At last, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed October 31 for outstanding senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assemblies by-elections.
This is contained in a statement by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye.
The by-election will take place as a result of death, resignation and court nullification of the former occupants.
By the harmonised timetable, the commission said that it would give the Notice of Election on August 17, 2020 while political parties will conduct their primaries to nominate candidates between August 24 and September 8, 2020.
INEC said in the statement that the submission of forms and personal particulars of candidates will commence on September 9 and close at 6 p.m. on September 13, 2020.
The commission said the timetable and schedule of activities for the by-elections have been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
According to INEC, the by-elections will take place in the following senatorial district and federal constituencies, Bayelsa Central Senatorial District; Bayelsa West Senatorial District; Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State; Bayo State Constituency, Borno State; Cross River North Senatorial District and the Obudu State Constituency, Cross River State.
Other bye-elections will take place in Imo North Senatorial District; Lagos East Senatorial District; Kosofe II State Constituency, Lagos State; Plateau South Senatorial District; Bakura State Constituency, Zamfara State; and in Ibaji State Constituency, Kogi State.
The INEC National Commissioner said that the attention of the commission had been drawn to the existence of vacancies in the following state constituencies: Isi-Uzo State Constituency in Enugu State and Bakori State Constituency in Katsina State.
But, it said that the vacancies have not been formally declared by the speakers of the affected state assemblies.
The commission implored concerned stakeholders, particularly political parties to take note of the timelines in the schedule and adhere to them strictly.
Okoye said that the vacancies occurred in both Federal and State Legislative Houses as a result of resignation or death of members, affecting 12 constituencies across 8 States of the federation.
The commission explained that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission decided earlier to suspend the conduct of all bye-elections until it is satisfied that the elections can be conducted in a safe and conducive environment.
Accordingly, it said: “Since then, the commission has developed its Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, revised its regulations and guidelines and engaged with health authorities and stakeholders on conducting elections in an environment that guarantees both credibility and public safety.”
The commission explained that it has also successfully conducted the by-election to fill the vacancy in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency and is going ahead with the conduct of governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States on September 19 and October 10 respectively.
Consequently, it said that it is now in a position to schedule to conduct the by-elections where other vacancies occurred.