By G9ija

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought the contributions of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to its new policy on conducting elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, in a way that would guarantee safety and security of voters.

The Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, made the request at his first virtual consultative meeting with CSOs on Tuesday.

Mr Yakubu described the document recently released by the commission as a living document which required the input of stakeholders for its effective implementation.

“I urge CSOs to consider this policy as a living document, hence the decision to engage with you on how we can strengthen it in a manner that will further engender public confidence.

“On how to encourage greater citizens’ participation in the electoral process and, most importantly, guarantee the safety and security of voters in the process of exercising their democratic rights to vote.

” Your comments and contributions to the 10 items listed in the policy document and consequential amendments to the 2019 Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections are critical.

” I wish to reassure you that they will be taken into consideration in reviewing the policy as well as the regulations where necessary.

“In addition, we also welcome your input into the implementation of the policy before, during and after the election,” he said.

Mr Yakubu said the engagement with civil society organisations remained at the core of the commission’s electoral process, assuring that the commission would continue to deepen such engagement.

Speaking on INEC’s preparations for Edo governorship election, the chairman disclosed that as usual, CSOs would be accredited to observe the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well as the upcoming by-elections.

“However, in the spirit of deepening the use of technology in our electoral process and also in line with the new reality of conducting electoral activities under the COVID-19 pandemic, accreditation of observers will be done online.

“A dedicated portal has been created by the commission for this purpose and you will be briefed at this meeting on the new procedure.

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