Due to the COVID-19-provoked changes in activities in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Monday it would deploy more technological tools in discharging its mandate from 2021.
In a 17-page document titled: “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 pandemic, signed by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and released in Abuja, INEC said it would introduce electronic voting in the country next year.
It also decried the rising cost of elections in the country and promised to liaise with the National Assembly to see how political parties could nominate replacements for dead representatives in line with a Supreme Court judgment that votes belong to the parties and not individuals.
The commission added that voters without face masks would be disallowed from voting in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections taking place later in the year.
On the cost of bye-elections, INEC said its records revealed that in 10 percent of all bye-elections conducted since 2015, the party which originally won the election went ahead to lose.
The Commission said it would engage the National Assembly and other stakeholders to explore ways of defraying the costs associated with bye-elections.
It added: “As already announced by the Commission, the dates for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States remain 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively. Dates for the four postponed bye-elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau States, as well as other bye-elections that become due during the COVID-19 pandemic will be announced by the Commission following its established procedures.
“The Commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10 percent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.
“The Commission will engage relevant authorities, including the legislature, to designate election as an essential service to enable the Commission function effectively in times of national emergency.”