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INEC postpones senatorial bye-election in Lagos, five others

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the senatorial bye-election in Lagos, five other states earlier scheduled for Octover 31st, 2020.

Also, the electoral commission has postponed the nine House of Assembly bye-elections that were scheduled to hold the same day across the country.

Some of the pending by-elections postponed were Bayelsa Central Senatorial District; Bayelsa West Senatorial District; Nganzai and Bayo Constituencies in Borno State; Cross River North Senatorial District; Obudu Constituency in Cross River.

Others were Imo North Senatorial District; Lagos East Senatorial District; Kosofe II Constituency in Lagos State; Plateau South Senatorial District; Bakura Constituency in Zamfara; and Ibaji Constituency in Kogi.

The bye-elections earlier scheduled for next nine days in the federal and state legislative houses were due to the resignation and deaths of members in eight states of the federation.

The commission, in a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday and signed by its Chairman on Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said that the development followed a meeting of the electoral body with the 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to review preparations for the 15 bye-elections.

As gathered, the decision was reached considering ongoing unrest that had trailed the EndSARS protest and the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The commission said: “On Wednesday 21st October 2020, the Commission notified the nation that having taken cognizance of the current security situation in parts of the country, a meeting with the 37 RECs will be held to evaluate the situation in the States and Constituencies where bye-elections have been scheduled,” INEC explained in a statement, signed Thursday, by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.

“Accordingly, the Commission has decided to postpone the bye-elections in the 6 Senatorial Districts and 9 State Constituencies.

“This decision is in compliance with Section 26 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which gives the Commission the power to postpone an election if there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date, or that it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies. “

INEC, however, disclosed that it would continue to monitor the situation in the states where the elections are to be held and meet in two weeks to review the situation and also pick a feasible date for the polls.

While appealing for calm among stakeholders and voters in the affected areas, it reiterated that the safety of the voting public, election officials, and other stakeholders is important to the Commission.

“We are convinced that the country will emerge from the current challenges stronger while our electoral process will continue to improve,” the electoral body added.

It would be recalled that two days ago, soldiers opened fire on the #EndSARS protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos, a development that triggered the burning of buildings, vehicles, among others.

The military had denied any involvement in the matter but Amnesty International claims twelve persons were killed during the shooting. Twenty-eight people were confirmed to have also been wounded but witnesses claim the casualties are higher than that.

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