The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said that it would not postpone Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections despite the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Festus Okoye, a spokesperson to the commission, in an interview on ARISE TV, Monday, said, postponing the elections in the two states could make INEC lose the right to pick the dates for elections in future.
Recall that INEC had in February fixed the date for the governorship election in Edo and Ondo for September 19 and October 10 respectively.
INEC had also in March, postponed the scheduled governorship bye-elections in Plateau, Bayelsa and Imo states.
However, rising number in cases of the coronavirus in the state has raised concerns as to whether it was safe for the commission to conduct elections, in light of social distancing directive issued by the government to curtail further spreading of the disease.
Meanwhile, Mr Okoye cited the 1999 constitution, which provides INEC the freedom to conduct an election “not earlier than 150 days and not lesser than 30 days to the expiration of the tenure of an elected office holder.”
He added that while the commission is aware of realities of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, but “the implications of not adhering to the law, could make INEC lose the rights to pick the date of elections going foward.”
“The commission is a constitutional body, and its powers are derived directly from the constitution section 178(1) says that it is the function of INEC to fix the date of elections.
“Subsection 2 says that an election to the office of the governor shall be conducted not earlier than 150 days and not lesser than 30 days to the expiration of the tenure of the last holder of the office.
“The implication is that the governor of Edo was sworn in on November 11 and we must conduct the governorship election in Edo State on or before October 13, 2020; while that of Ondo State must be conducted on or before January 25, 2021.
“The truth of the matter is that the country is faced with a situation of conflicting rights. The rights of the Nigerian people to elect their representative and also their rights to life, not to go to a polling unit and die.”