The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has said that the commission remains committed to improving electoral processes in the country.
According to him, one of the things it plans to implement in the coming year is the introduction of electronic balloting.
Yakubu said the commission intends to introduce this during the Anambra elections, taking place in 2021.
“The commission is committed to introducing at least electronic balloting in the major election we are going to conduct next year, which happens to be the Anambra governorship election and thereafter, with the support of the National Assembly, we hope that the legal environment will improve such that we can also go ahead to collate and transmit results electronically”.
The INEC boss said this on Tuesday during a town hall meeting tagged Fixing Nigerian Elections, adding that “at present, the law doesn’t permit that because the system is essentially manual”.
He made the comments while responding to a question about what he would like to improve about the electoral system in the country.
“There are quite a number of issues, one of which is the deployment of technology,” the INEC boss said.
“We would like a situation where the electoral legal environment is reformed in such a manner that will continue to deepen the deployment of technology in elections.
“I am happy with what the commission has done since 2010. Recall that there is a trajectory. We started in 2010 with the biometric register of voters and so in 2011, the Commission essentially updated the biometric register and we did the same thing in 2014 and in 2017 and in 2018 over a period of 16 months in which we added 14.2 million Nigerians to the register.
“The second is biometric accreditation of voters and there was an innovation introduced in 2015, the smart card readers that go along with the permanent voters’ card.
“We have achieved that. We are looking forward (particularly with the 2015 amendment) to the electoral Act that empowers the commission to deepen the use of technology, in voting, particularly in the era of electronic voting, to see how far we can go a notch higher,” he added.
A former vice president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has called for the postponement of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had set September 19 to conduct the election in Edo and October 10 for the poll in Ondo.
Addressing reporters on Sunday in Kaduna, Aremu believes conducting the elections in the face of rising cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases will put the lives of millions of voters at risk.
He alleged that the basic COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing, were violated during the recent primary elections conducted by various political parties in Edo State.
Aremu warned that the electorate must not be exposed to the dangers of COVID-19 during elections and advised INEC to reconsider its timetable and see how it can reschedule the two polls.
According to him, since the primary objective of governance is to protect the lives and property of the citizens, it is incumbent on INEC to consider the inherent danger of conducting elections while the COVID-19 pandemic is fast spreading in the country.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised an alarm over the conflicting court orders arising from the disputes among members of the same party.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this in a statement on Thursday.
According to him, some politicians obtain orders from courts that have been completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose.
“The Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting court orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries,” he said.
He added, “The Commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency, and conflicting nature of the Orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position.”
Okoye, therefore, called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest.
He urged the NBA to tell its members not to allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process.
The INEC official stressed that it was in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.
“These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy,” he said.
Okoye explained that the call became necessary after INEC met on Thursday and deliberated on various issues, including the effect of conflicting court orders and pending bye-elections that arose as a result of resignations and death of members of the National and State Assemblies.
In view of its Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the need to test run the new policy as well as Regulations and Guidelines developed therefrom, he revealed that the INEC made some resolutions.
This includes test-running the policy in Nasarawa State to fill the vacancy created by the death of Adamu Ibrahim, the lawmaker representing Nasarawa Central State Constituency.
The INEC national commissioner announced that the bye-election would take place on August 8 while the timetable and schedule of activities have been uploaded on the commission’s website.
Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has been speaking on the plethora of issues relating to the conduct of the exercise.
In a statement, INEC’s national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education, Festus Okoye said the conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes will end on Saturday, June 27, 2020.
The submission of the list of candidates whom the parties propose to sponsor at the election as well as affidavits of the validly nominated candidates will close on Monday, June the 29, 2020.
The electoral umpire reminded political parties that the spate and tenor of pre-election litigations and the conflicting emanating orders can harm the smooth conduct of primaries and the upcoming polls.
INEC however, insists that it will continue to obey all orders and judgements from properly constituted courts in accordance.
A factional acting National Charman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Victor Giadom, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disregard the ongoing governorship primary election in Edo State.
He made the appeal in a letter addressed to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and received by the electoral umpire on Monday.
In the letter dated June 18, 2020, Giadom asked INEC not to give support to direct primary election conducted by a committee chaired by the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma.
“Kindly note that as the acting chairman of our party, I did not authorise such a committee, neither have I inaugurated one,” he said.
The factional chairman added, “You are, therefore, advised not to give any support to any such committee or to monitor any such primaries.”
Although Giadom acknowledged that the party had fixed June 22 to conduct the exercise, he insisted that the primary had been postponed and a new date would be communicated to INEC soon.
He noted that a copy of the letter has been sent to the relevant law enforcement agencies and the APC chairman of the party in the state loyal to his faction, Anslem Ojezua.
Read the letter addressed to the INEC chairman below:
The Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, the Edo State Capital has adjourned to Monday, the adoption of processes in the suit challenging the planned mode of the All Progressives Congress primaries ahead of the governorship election.
The suit was filed by Kenneth Asekhome and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen against the APC suspended National Chairman Adams Oshimhole, INEC and the Inspector General of Police.
During proceedings on Friday, the court ruled on applications including one filed by the 4th defendant, the IGP, who is seeking to be struck out of the suit.
Another application by parties seeking to be joined, filed by Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Pius Odubu and Osaro Obaze was also dismissed.
These parties have, however, decided to appeal the ruling.
The counsel for the second defendant had also filed and sought to be heard in an application seeking the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the claimants have been expelled from the party and not aspirants in the primary election.
The court, therefore, ruled that this application would be heard in consolidation with the originating summons.
A professor of political science, Adele Jinadu, has said that it is not feasible for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide face masks for all the voters in the upcoming Edo and Ondo state governorship elections.
Professor Jinadu said this on Wednesday, during a Citizens Townhall On Voting Amidst COVID-19.
“My point is not that INEC cannot provide but that we also as citizens have the responsibility to assist INEC in doing its work and making the elections take place.
“It is not feasible for INEC to provide masks for every voter. But there are activism groups all over the country who can assist in doing that as part of their own contribution to the electoral process,” he said.
His comments come days after the INEC boss, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission is set to proceed with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states despite the COVID-19.
According to Mahmoud, although the pandemic has disrupted activities globally, the PTF has now issued guidelines on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide.
On that basis, he noted that the Commission recently released its own policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a document titled Voter’s Code of Conduct for Elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the INEC noted that wearing of facemasks at the Polling Units and all election centers is mandatory.
It, however, noted that voters should make provisions for their own face masks.
See the full list of guidelines below.
Giving a breakdown of the expected figures, the INEC boss said: “The Edo and Ondo Governorship elections, as well as the five Senatorial and four State Assembly bye-elections, are spread across nine states of the Federation involving a cumulative number of 62 Local Government Areas (LGAs); 687 Registration Areas (RAs); 9,149 Polling Units (PUs) and 6,454,950 registered voters.
“Put in the context of our sub-region, the number of registered voters for these off-season elections is equivalent to holding General Elections in Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde put together,”.
Welcome to the Live TV and Virtual Citizens Town Hall which will focus on the theme: Voting Amidst the COVID-19, with specific reference to the 2020 Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on May 21, released its policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
The purpose of the policy, according to INEC, was “to enable officials and staff of the commission to understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health and financial implications, as well as to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders during the elections”.
The electoral body also noted that the policy will regulate the conduct of the upcoming governorship election in Edo and Ondo and rescheduled bye-elections and so far, INEC is consulting relevant stakeholders to harness feedback on the proposed policy.
In light of that, this townhall is conducted to complement the INEC-led consultations on the policy. Specifically, the Citizens Townhall seeks to achieve the following specific objectives;
1. To facilitate public debate on the impact of COVID-19 on elections with a view to harnessing citizens inputs into the INEC policy on election in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. To raise public awareness on the policy especially the new processes and guidelines introduced in the electoral process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The debate is proposed to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders including INEC, NCDC, security agencies, CSOs, political parties, citizens and the media to discuss the practicalities of conducting elections amidst COVID-19 and the overriding implications of not conducting elections within constitutional time limits.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained while it is necessary for Nigeria to continue with electoral activities in the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, health authorities in Nigeria have issued guidelines on how public institutions can protect their workforce and safely serve the public interest.
He made the remarks at the first virtual consultative meeting of the commission with Civil Society Organisations which held on Tuesday.
Yakubu believes the nation’s democracy and electoral activities cannot be truncated as a result of the pandemic.
He noted the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) based on the advisory from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and global health authorities.
The INEC boss revealed that the electoral umpire has released a policy document on how electoral activities can proceed while mitigating the risk to all involved in the process.
He also hinted that some political parties have notified INEC of the dates for their primaries, adding that this marked the formal commencement of the process for the Edo State governorship election scheduled for September 19.
Read the full text of the INEC chairman’s remarks at the meeting below:
Let me, first of all, welcome you all to this meeting. Although most of you are familiar with teleconferencing, this meeting is nevertheless historic being the first virtual meeting between CSOs and the Commission.
Let me similarly welcome members of the INEC Press Corps who are also covering the meeting virtually. This meeting is one more example of how technology facilitates the consultative meetings necessary for the consolidation of our electoral process in particular and democracy in general.
Engagement with civil society remains at the core of our electoral process. I wish to reassure you that the Commission will continue to deepen such engagement.
No doubt the world is passing through an extraordinary period. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the normal ways of doing things, particularly public engagement. For us as an Election Management Body (EMB), we take the threat to life posed by the pandemic seriously.
Clearly, conducting election under the current global health emergency is novel. Apart from the general policy directions provided by some international organisations that support democracy around the world, only a few countries have conducted elections under the COVID-19 pandemic. There is, therefore, little international best practice to guide election managers in this regard.
However, since health authorities have issued guidelines on how public institutions in Nigeria can protect their workforce and safely serve the public interest, we consider it imperative to proceed with electoral activities in Nigeria.
Our democracy and electoral cannot be truncated due to the pandemic. Drawing from the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) anchored on the advisory from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and global health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Commission has released a policy document on how electoral activities can proceed while mitigating the risk to all involved in the process.
I urge civil society to consider this policy as a living document hence the decision to engage with you on how we can strengthen it in a manner that will further engender public confidence, encourage greater citizens’ participation in the electoral process and, most importantly, guarantee the safety and security of voters in the process of exercising their democratic rights to vote.
Your comments and contributions to the 10 items listed in the policy document and consequential amendments to the 2019 Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections are critical, I wish to reassure you that they will be taken into consideration in reviewing the policy as well as the Regulations where necessary.
In addition, we also welcome your input into the implementation of the policy before, during, and after the election.
As you are aware, there are several elections to be conducted in the next few months. The Edo and Ondo Governorship elections have been scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively.
The first of the 14 activities itemised in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Edo election has been carried out. The Notice for the Election was published yesterday in our Edo Office and simultaneously on our website and social media platforms for the first time.
The second activity, which is the commencement of party primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, begins today and ends on 27th June 2020.
A number of political parties have already notified the Commission of the dates for their primaries. This marks the formal commencement of the process for the September 19th Governorship election in Edo State.
In addition to the two Governorship elections, a number of bye-elections are pending in five Senatorial Districts and five State Constituencies. The Commission is preparing for all the elections.
However, we believe that the frequency of bye-elections in Nigeria requires a rethink. The Commission will engage with the National Assembly and all stakeholders, including civil society, on the way forward.
As usual, civil society organisations will be accredited to observe the elections. However, in the spirit of deepening the use of technology in our electoral process and in line with the new reality of conducting electoral activities under the COVID-19 pandemic, accreditation of observers will be done online.
A dedicated portal has been created by the Commission for this purpose and you will be briefed at this meeting on the new procedure.
Once again, I welcome civil society to our first virtual meeting, and we look forward to a robust discussion as usual. I thank you for your presence and consistent support to the Commission.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to proceed with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Saturday during its first virtual meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
According to Yakubu, just like every other national institution in Nigeria, “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our activities”.
He noted that for instance, further engagement with the National Assembly and stakeholders on electoral reform as well as the conduct of some off-season elections had to be suspended because of the global health emergency.
But the INEC boss said thankfully, the PTF has now issued guidelines on protective measures for the gradual restoration of normalcy nationwide. On that basis, he noted that the Commission recently released its own policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Commission is convinced that electoral activities can resume but in full compliance with the advisory issued by health authorities.
“Consequently, the end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively will proceed as planned.
“While the Commission takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, our democracy and electoral process cannot be truncated for this reason, particularly because health authorities have advised on measures to protect the public from the virus, including all those involved in elections,” Yakubu added.
According to him, already, some of the registered political parties have notified the Commission of the dates for their party primaries leading to the nomination of their candidates for the two elections.
In addition to the two governorship elections, the Commission is also making preparations to conduct nine legislative bye-elections. Already, vacancies have been declared by the Senate President in respect of four Senatorial Districts (Bayelsa Central, Bayelsa East, Imo North and Plateau South). Similarly, the Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly has declared the seat for Nasarawa Central State Constituency vacant. Information reaching the Commission also indicates the existence of vacancies for the Cross River North Senatorial District, Nganzai and Bayo State constituencies of Borno State and Bakori State constituency of Katsina State.
“The Edo and Ondo Governorship elections, as well as the five Senatorial and four State Assembly bye-elections, are spread across nine states of the Federation involving a cumulative number of 62 Local Government Areas (LGAs); 687 Registration Areas (RAs); 9,149 Polling Units (PUs) and 6,454,950 registered voters. Put in the context of our sub-region, the number of registered voters for these off-season elections is equivalent to holding General Elections in Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde put together,” the INEC boss said.
He, therefore, stated that the Commission is determined to hold some of the bye-elections ahead of the two major Governorship elections to enable it in test running and fine-tuning its modified processes in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission says it is also studying reports of recent elections conducted under the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in places such as Mali and South Korea, for any lessons that will strengthen our processes and protect all those involved.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has affirmed the power of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties which failed to comply with the provisions of the law particularly section 225[a] of the 1999 constitution as amended.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, the court insists that the constitutional power of the electoral commission and the reasons given by the commission for the deregistration of some political parties are valid; in conformity with the law and sacrosanct.
The court added that the constitutional power of INEC could not be affected by the fact of anticipated local government elections by some states which dates have not been fixed, certain or even ascertainable.
Justice Taiwo held that the de-registration of National Unity Party (NUP) as a political party in Nigeria was lawfully done in exercise of vested constitutional powers of the commission and in accordance with section 225[a] of the 1999 constitution.
The court further held that the party failed to show that the exercise of the commission’s powers to de-register it was at variance with the law and also ultra vires.
Justice Taiwo, in the judgment dismissed the argument of NUP which is the same legal argument by the 74 de-registered parties that until all local govt elections in the country are held instead of only FCT local elections the electoral umpire cannot de-register them.
With the judgment of the court, only 18 political parties will be participating in the Edo and Ondo State governorship elections scheduled to hold on September 19 and October 10, 2020.
NUP, one of the 74 parties de-registered by the INEC, had earlier in a suit filed on February 24, 2020, prayed the court to declare that INEC had no power under section 225A of the constitution to de-register it as a political party.