The Independent National Electoral College (INEC) has banned party-branded face masks at polling booths.
The directive comes ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for September 19 and October 10.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee (EOLC), Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, gave the warning on Wednesday in Abuja.
He spoke during the commission’s first virtual consultative meeting with the media.
Ibeanu said wearing of face masks to polling units will be compulsory, but that “any voter with branded face masks will be turned back from the polling unit”.
The official stated that INEC would not provide or share face masks to voters during the polls.
He explained that the commission could not afford to cover the cost.
“We are talking about 6.4 million voters. Even if you handed out masks at N100, that is N640 million. Should INEC be spending N640 million on face masks that organizations and government agencies can actually give to people?” Ibeanu quipped.
The commissioner urged media houses to sensitize the public on donation and distribution of face masks.
“It is not just about the election, it will help in the circumstances of the pandemic. I don’t think anybody in Nigeria should not have access to face masks now. The important thing is that people can also improvise, and they need to understand that they can do so”.
Ibeanu added that Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) and the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), before the Edo and Ondo polls would not be feasible.
“Since the 2019 general elections, there has not been new CVR. If the collection of the PVCs is allowed for Edo and Ondo polls, the same demand will be made for bye-elections. So we decided not to allow collection of PVCs before the elections,” he said.
The commissioner also announced a slight adjustment of voting hours.
Ibeanu noted that voting would commence at 8.30 am and close by 2.30pm as against the usual 8 am to 2pm.
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