Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that violence of any form may undermine COVID-19 protocols during the September 19 Edo governorship election, and escalate the pandemic in the state.
INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the warning yesterday at the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
He noted that such irregularity might complicate the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Yakubu, violence may not only disrupt the election but also lead to further spread of the pandemic.
He said: “I will like to appeal to all parties and candidates and all those involved in the electoral process to eschew violence. In the context of COVID 19, violence will not only disrupt the election, it will also complicate the nation’s response to the health emergencies.”
He however assured the Commission is fully prepared and ready for the conduct of the election and would fully comply with the COVID-19 protocols.
Responding to whether the Commission can assure a violence- free poll, Yakubu explained that “we can only assure of efforts we are making that there is no violence.”
He added: “We have identified eight protective measures ranging from mandatory use of face mask, physical distancing, use of infrared thermometers
“It is mandatory to wear face mask or face covering without which the voter will not be allowed to vote. Face covering will be sufficient for the voter to be accredited and to vote.
“Voters are required to maintain physical distancing. The Commission introduced two-queues, one outside the polling area and the other inside the polling area.
‘’Within the inner queues, voters must maintain the mandatory two meter distance from each other and we clearly mark this in one of the bye elections.
“Voters showing symptoms must obey all directions from officials to stop other voters from been infected.”
He also explained that INEC has produced its policy in Braille for virtually impaired voters who may not be able to read it’s flyers and posters.
“All these steps are in the realm of planning but the true test of the plan is the actual implementation. We are going into Edo next week, assured that we have test run our preparations for voting under the COVID 19”.
The INEC boss disclosed that the PTF had provided 3,000 thermometers to deploy to polling units in Edo State.