Amidst threat by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that voters who failed to adhere to the COVID-19 precautionary measures would not be allowed to vote, reports across Edo State indicate that voters and officials in the ongoing gubernatorial election have largely ignored the warning.
Most voters observed in Igueben, Esan, Ovia, and Ikopba/Okha local government areas did not adhere to the prescribed 2 metres physical distancing rule by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The European Centre for Electoral Support said voters in Ologbosere Primary School, Ward 4 with 40 units and other polling units they visited were not observing the COVID-19 guidelines as stipulated in the INEC policy.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Wilson Manji, deputy project coordinator, European Centre for Electoral Support, said although the voters were all wearing face masks, they did not maintain social distancing.
“So far the election is going smoothly and calm. We are at Ologbosere primary in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of the state. So far everything is peaceful and calm here. Just that the INEC staff just arrived at about 10 a.m. and accreditation and voting started at about 10.30 a.m. instead of 8.30 a.m,” he said.
According to him, the polling officers came with hand sanitisers and thermometers to check the temperature of every voter.
INEC had said the use of face masks was mandatory for all involved in the election process, while alcohol-based hand sanitizers are expected to be provided for election officials at the polling units.
Rules of physical distancing, the commission said, would be enforced at all election activities including political engagements, training, and queuing at polling units.
However, voters monitored at polling unit 26, ward 5, in Iguododo community, Orionhwon Local Government, Eguare Primary School, Ebelle, Ward 06, PU 08 Igueben, LGA did not obey the rules.
Several Covid-19 compliance officers were seen in some polling units shaking hands with people, while others simply watched.