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Monday, July 4, 2022

Edo: Obaseki Bans Political Parties from Conducting Direct Primaries

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Following the rising number of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Edo state, the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has banned any form of direct primary elections by political parties to nominate governorship candidate for the forthcoming September 19,2020 gubernatorial election in the state.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) directed all political parties to conduct their primary elections before the end of June.
Obaseki, who announced the ban of direct primary election in a gazette published in some of the National dailies over the weekend said only indirect primary election can be allowed to take place in the state, and can only be held at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium.
According to the Gazette signed by the governor, as part of COVID-19 response efforts, Edo State Government caused a study to be conducted by a team of epidemiologists (presented to the Edo state COVID-19 response team on Tuesday 14, March 2020), the result of which suggested, among other things, that COVID-19 infections in the state would peak around the 28th of June, 2020.
“The INEC has announced the date of the gubernatorial election and directed political parties to conduct their primaries, and has accordingly issued guidelines for the conduct of party primaries which take cognizance of the ongoing efforts to stem the tide of the pandemic and emphasize public safety and mitigation of health risks from COVID-19. In line with the focus and the objectives of the INEC guideline, it is needful and expedient to make special provisions by way of supplementary regulations for the health and safety (particularly as they relates to the COVID-19 pandemic) of the people of the state as well as officials of INEC who would be participating in the primaries of the political parties in the state. “On the basis of that, we have deployed this measure in Edo State, the rule has been gazetted and so direct primaries cannot hold here as far as that regulation is concerned. So, it has to be indirect, in order to be working in line with the extant rule in the state. “Provided that in respect of political gatherings for the purpose of conducting primaries for any of the parties desiring to field candidates in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, gatherings of more than 20 persons may be allowed, subject to the written approval of the Governor. “If such gatherings do not exceed 5,000 persons; hold in Benin City and in a single facility with a large seating capacity of not less than 10,000 persons; are provided with adequate health, safety and sanitary facilities and are COVID-19 response compliant with social distancing policy, hand-washing and proper use of face masks fully observed,” he said.
He said any person who fails to comply with the restriction, prohibition or requirement imposed under the supplementary regulations commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine as prescribed in section 5 of the Quarantine Act Cap Q2, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.
This directive may not be unconnected with the State government opposition to the proposed direct primary election by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to nominate the party’s candidate in the forthcoming governorship election.

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