The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says visa fees for foreign election observers have been waived for their extended stay following the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections.

The presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019 but were postponed hours before they were scheduled to begin, to February 23, 2019, while governorship and state House of Assembly elections were postponed to March 9, 2019.

Speaking at a press conference on THursday, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, stated that the commission, working with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), had resolved to waive visa fees for those affected by the extension.

His words: “In particular, some of our international observers are on short-term single entry visa. Some may also wish to leave the country after election this Saturday and return to observe the governorship, state assembly and FCT area council elections now rescheduled for Saturday, 9th March, 2019. In order to make the process easier, the Nigeria Immigration Service working with the commission is granting extension of visa to all international observers that require such facility.

“Similarly, the Immigration Service is also granting re-entry visa to all observers who may wish to travel out of the country and return for the second part of the general election. In this regard, the service has requested me to convey its decision to waive the visa fee and treat all such requests expeditiously.

“The extension of stay or re-entry into the country will be treated gratis. A special desk to handle those who wish to extend their stay as well as those travelling and coming back to Nigeria before March 9, 2019, has been set up at the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Two immigration officers have been assigned to carry out the ad hoc assignment and they started this afternoon. So, all the international observers that are on short visa that may expire before March 9, and those, who are on single entry visas that require re-issuance of visas, can now go to our office at our headquarters here in Maitama, Abuja, and get their visas either extended or renewed gratis.”

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