In continuation of its preparations for Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday met with media organisations, and released fresh guidelines for voters’ safety during elections.
At the virtual teleconference meeting with media organisations and the President of Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the media that the commission would accredit journalists to cover the two governorship elections.
He said: “The commission has always accredited media organisations to cover elections and to ensure your unimpeded access to voting locations and collation centres. The forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well as many by-elections across the country, will not be different.
“However, in tandem with the new health reality, accreditation of media organisations for these elections will be done online through a dedicated portal. You will be fully briefed at this meeting on the new procedure.”
The commission also released the procedure for accreditation for media organisations covering the governorship elections to include the following:
“Each media organisation will apply and upload the list of its personnel to be accredited and their passport photographs and personal details.
“INEC will screen the names and particulars to ensure that they comply with the requirements for accreditation.”
Also, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, released fresh guidelines and code of conduct for voting during the elections.
Ibeanu said the commission would not tolerate branded face masks, as any voter with such, would be turned back.
INEC would also not provide face masks due to logistical reasons based on cost.
He said for INEC to provide face mask for over 6.4 million voters at N100 each would cost the commission over N640 million.
He added that results would not be transmitted electronically as there’s no law yet for it.
He said the commission has suspended the continuous registration of voters due to COVID-19.
Ibeanu said the commission would collapse some collation centres into one as well as collapse registration area centres.
According to him, there may be a reduction of voting points and this may be due to reports during the preparations for the elections.
“Wearing of face mask at polling units and all election locations is mandatory. Please make provision for your own face mask. Face masks must be worn at all times, but an election official may request you to lower your mask for proper identification when necessary and anyone that symptomatic to COVID-19 would be isolated immediately.
“Voting starts at 8.30 a.m and stops at 2.30 p.m.
“There shall be two queues formed at each polling location (polling unit or voting point). The first queue (the outer queue) will be outside, from which an election official shall bring voters into the voting area in batches. The second queue (the inner queue) will be formed in the voting area.
“By 2.30 p.m, an election official shall stand at the end of the outer queue indicating that the queue is closed. Any voter on the outer queue by 2.30 p.m shall be allowed to vote.
“Queues must be orderly and voters on a queue must maintain a distance of two meters (six feet) from each other.
“Any voter showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as high temperature, coughing, sneezing, etc will be requested to leave the queue or voting area and shall be attended to by designated officials.
“Please obey all directives by the officials to keep yourself and others safe. Report any health emergencies urgently to an official at the polling unit.
“Avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces or leaning on walls and other surfaces at the polling unit. You may request for hand sanitiser which will be given to you if available,” he stated.
He added: “An election official may ask you to clean your fingers with an antiseptic before your fingerprint is read with the smart card reader.
“Please show your voters’ card to election officials whenever you are requested to do so.
“After you cast your vote, move away from the voting area. If you wish to observe the counting of votes and announcement of the result, you will be directed by an election official on where to stay.”
The commission urged voters to ensure that they go away with their used protective materials such as face masks and hand gloves, urging them not to litter the polling units with them.