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Violation of COVID-19 protocols at rallies worries INEC, Edo government

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed dissatisfaction over the non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols by political party leaders and their supporters in the Edo State governorship electioneering.

INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Nick Dazang, told The Guardian yesterday that the commission was deeply worried about some infractions to the COVID-19 guidelines by parties at the rallies.

Footages of campaign rallies by leading candidates in the September 19 governorship poll showed poor level of compliance with COVID-19 guidelines as supporters trooped out with little or no regard for physical distancing, facemasks and other safety protocols, The Guardian observed.

On whether the violators will be sanctioned, INEC noted that the most important thing was for those concerned to understand the dangers of their action.

The commission, Dazang said, would prefer using dialogue to force, adding that neither the politicians nor the voters would want to get the virus.

“We are deeply concerned about some of these infractions. COVID-19 is real. That is why the commission, in conjunction with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and health authorities, issued guidelines for the conduct of elections under COVID-19. For now, since it is at the level of campaign, we will continue to appeal to politicians and their supporters to observe the COVID-19 guidelines,” he said.

However, the commission commended Nasarawa Central voters for complying with COVID-19 guidelines during Saturday’s by-election.

ALSO, Edo State government has called on the citizens to hold the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, responsible for any spike in new coronavirus cases in the state.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, stated yesterday that the warning became imperative as the APC and its candidate did not follow the safety protocols in organising their campaign at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Sports Complex in Benin City, on Saturday.

He stated: “We are aware that the campaign flag-off was held without adherence to the protocols emplaced by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), INEC and the Edo government to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“There may have been pretenses to have organised a semblance of a COVID-19 health and safety protocol, but we know that to be a charade because tests were not conducted in the case of people turning up with high temperature and samples were not collected for suspected cases.”

Osagie added that it was most regrettable that the APC would endanger people’s lives, urging the public to be on the alert should there be escalation of cases of the virus in the state.


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