Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shifted the bye-election to fill the vacant seats of Bayelsa West and Central senatorial districts.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in a statement said the electoral commission had received notifications of vacancies of the Bayelsa Central and West Senatorial Districts following the swearing into office of Senators Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as governor and deputy- governor respectively.
According to him, the Commission also received notification of vacancies in Imo North and Plateau South Senatorial Districts following the deaths of Senators Benjamin Uwajumogu and Longian Ignatius Dalong respectively.
He said following the declaration of the vacancies, the electoral commission had commenced preparation for the conduct of the bye-election noting however that given the health emergency occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic and the preventive measures put in place by health authorities, federal and state governments, the commission has decided to postpone the four senatorial districts bye-election until the situation normalises.
Okoye who said the timetable and schedule of activities for the postponed bye-election will be issued as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is contained, stressed that the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for September and October 2020 respectively are not affected.
“This is in line with Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which empowers the commission to postpone any election in the event of any emergency or natural disaster.
“The Commission is compelled to take this step in recognition of the fact that all major activities in the electoral process involve large gathering of people.
“These include the conduct of political party primaries, campaigns, stakeholder meetings, training and deployment of election and security personnel, movement of accredited observers and journalists, congregation of voters and other stakeholders at polling units, as well as the collation centres.
“While the Commission acknowledges the right and desire of citizens for effective representation, there is an over-riding public interest in ensuring the health, safety and well being of all stakeholders”, Okoye said.