No branded face masks at polling units, INEC warns voters, politicians


****says no collection of PVC for Edo, Ondo Guber polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised voters in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states to avoid coming to polling centers with face masks branded with campaign symbols.

The commission insisted that face masks is mandatory at polling units and all election locations, adding that any voter without a mask or who wears a mask constituting campaign shall be turned away.

National Commissioner and Chairman of Electoral Operations & Logistic Committee, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu disclosed this on Wednesday at the commission’s virtual meeting with the media.

Ibeanu said INEC would not share masks for voters on election day, adding that the commission would allow voters to improvised by coming with handkerchief or any other materials to protect themselves.

The National Commissioner announced the suspension of Continuous Voter Registration and collection of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for both the governorship and by-elections.

He said the commission has suggested to political parties to use campaign methods that are in compliance with the guidelines for COVID-19, adding that method employed by parties must be done within the framework of the electoral law.

“Wearing of branded face masks will constitutes campaign and anyone who wears such marks will be turned away. Also, INEC will not share face masks for voters. The media should start a national campaign for donation and distribution of masks. People can also improvise. A major part of the challenge here is cost. If we are to provide masks for about 6.4 million voters that will participate in the elections that is about N640M and this is something that can be done by voluntary organisations”.

“Continuous Voter Registration is suspended but electronic channels would be made available for voters to check their status. One of the most challenging issues will be the recruitment of staff. The National Youth Service Corps may not fully mobilise the Corp members and school may still be on strike. The commission has directed its staff to start conversation with the NYSC. We are thinking ahead in this case. We have regulation and guidelines for supplementation of adhoc staff.

“The stand of INEC is that collection of PVCs is inauspicious at this time. We just came out of a general elections and there have been opportunity for people to collect their PVCs. Both at this time, due to so many factors and the health protocols, just handful of people may be able to collect. Again, If we are to open the door for in Edo and Ondo states, people may argue that same should be done for the by-elections”, he stated.

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