The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it would not reward bad conduct by giving certificates of return to candidates declared under duress by officials of the commission.
However, the commission stated that it could only issue certificates of return based on court judgement or decision of the Election Petition Tribunal which favours such a candidate returned under duress.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, made this remark on Thursday while fielding questions from newsmen during a press conference at the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
Okoye stated that apart from Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, there were other candidates from Niger, Benue and Akwa Ibom states who were also denied certificates of return for being declared under duress.
“The position of the commission has not changed. The position of the commission is that we will not issue certificate of returns to Gov Rochas Okorocha in relation to the Senatorial election.
“But as at today, he has taken his matter to the court and I think that it will be more prudent and more rational to wait for a matter that is filed in court before making any further comment.
“Since the matter is already in court, the best thing to do is not to prejudge the matter that is in court but to allow the judicial processes to run through. If at the end of the day the court gives an order that we should give him his certificate of return, of course, the commission will obey such a court order.
“If on other hand, the court takes a different position and makes other consequential orders in relation to conduct of the elections in Imo west, we will also comply with whatever order the court gives. As at today the matter is pending in court, the best thing to do is to wait for the outcome of the judicial process.”
On whether the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Hon Emeka Ihedioha declared as the winner in Imo Governorship elections, scored 1/4 of votes in all the local government areas of the state, the National Commissioner saidthe matter was already at the Election Petition Tribunal which had the competence to determine it.
Barrister Okoye also also spoke on the senatorial elections on Imo North which has not produced a winner.
“I think that matter is being addressed by the resident electoral commissioner in Imo state and I am sure that before the week runs out he would make the necessary announcement in relation to all the pending elections in Imo state and the pending certificate of return that has not been issued in Imo state.”
About the purported shifting the Benue state collation centre to another place, the chairman of Information and Voter Education and Publicity Committee said though supplementary elections would hold this Saturday, he was not aware of the shift.
He however stated that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) has been meeting with different stakeholders in the state in relation to the election noting that if there were agreements reached by the parties, he would be updated on the matter.
“On the issue of collation centre for Benue state, I am not aware the collation centre has been moved. I am the Supervisory National Commissioner for Benue state and the supplementary elections that will take place in Benue state on Saturday, I don’t have any information that the collation centre has been moved.
“But as you know, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) has been engaging with different stakeholders in the electoral process in relation to this election and what we want is a situation where we conduct the governorship election in a very peaceful and conducive atmosphere.
“So he is engaging with different stakeholders and if there had been some agreements between the commission and the different stakeholders when I get to Benue I will be availed with such agreements and I would be updated,” Okoye said.