INEC suspends meetings with political parties, others over COVID-19

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended meetings with political parties, security agencies, media and other stakeholders indefinitely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It said the commission would no longer monitor the conventions, congresses, conferences or meetings of political parties until further notice.

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, made the disclosure in a statement yesterday in Abuja. He said effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (today) all regular and non-essential activities would be suspended at its headquarters and offices nationwide for 14 days in the first instance. He restated INEC’s commitment to openness, consultation and continued communication with its stakeholders and expects all to understand the emergency situation that informed the suspension of contact engagements.

“The health and wellbeing of all our staff, officials and the general public are of paramount importance to us. Notwithstanding the measures outlined above, the commission will continue to meet via non-physical contact channels, while communication between the commission and its stakeholders will remain open.

“For emphasis, the new measures taken do not affect the activities for Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for 19th September and 10th October 2020 respectively. We will continue to keep the public abreast of developments, as they concern the nation’s electoral processes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State government has prohibited open religious worship, all public parks, night clubs and cinemas temporarily to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Governor Nyesom Wike in a statewide broadcast yesterday explained that the decision was taken after reviewing current development across the country and the need to further strengthen prevention measures to keep Rivers people safe.

“After due consultation with religious leaders, it was agreed that all religious organisations are to temporarily stop all forms of open worship. Public burials and wedding ceremonies are also banned within this period. “In view of the fact that the disease spreads fast through physical contact, social distance has become imperative if we are to contain the spread,” he stated. Wike directed chairmen of the 23 council areas of the state to ensure that public burials and weddings do not take place in their respective domains.

Also, Kano state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has directed the immediate closure of all event and recreation centres to curtail the spread of Coronavirus disease. He has also restricted social and public gatherings that populated more than 20 people. Ganduje gave the order at a live state broadcast over the ravaging COVID-19 across the globe. The government had earlier directed immediate shutdown of local Quranic and Islamiyya centres in the state and suspension of academic activities in schools.