The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday insisted that it would not reward bad conduct by presenting certificates of return to candidates who its officials declared winners under duress.
The commission, however said it could issue the certificates based on court judgement or decision of an election petitions tribunal.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this during a press conference held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Okoye said apart from the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, there were other candidates from Niger, Benue and Akwa Ibom states who were also denied certificates of return for being declared winners under duress.
He said, “The position of the commission has not changed. The position of the commission is that we will not issue certificate of return to Governor Rochas Okorocha in relation to the senatorial election.
“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 the other hand, the court takes a different position and makes other consequential orders in relation to the conduct of the elections in Imo West, we will also comply with whatever order the court gives.
“As of today, the matter is pending in court, the best thing to do is to wait for the outcome of the judicial process.”
Okoye also said the resumption of collation and announcements of results for the governorship election in Rivers State would be done between April 2 and 5.
Okoye said, “The commission set up a fact-finding committee that visited Rivers State and submitted its report, which revealed that while election could not hold in a few areas, it was successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies.
“Collation was ongoing at the time of the suspension of the process.”
Okoye also announced that supplementary elections, where necessary, would now take place on April 13, while issuance of all outstanding certificates of return would be concluded on April 19.
He said certificates of return in respect for governors-elect shall be presented by supervising national commissioners of the respective states between March 27 and March 29.
He also said the precise date for the presentation in each state would be made known by the respective resident electoral commissioners after consultation with the supervising national commissioners.
Okoye said date for presentation of certificates of return the state houses of assembly members-elect would be announced in due course.
He added that supplementary elections would be conducted in 18 states of the federation on Saturday.
According to him, detail of the states and constituencies where the elections would take place will be uploaded on the electoral body’s website before the close of work on Thursday.
Okoye said the commission had conducted governorship elections in 29 states and returns had been made in 22 states.
According to him, while the election was suspended in Rivers State, it was declared inconclusive in Bauchi, Adamawa (North East); Benue and Plateau (North Central) and Sokoto and Kano (North West) states.
He said, “Following the inconclusive governorship elections in the six states, the commission fixed supplementary elections for March 23, 2019.
“The supplementary governorship election earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi State is now a subject of litigation, which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Mohammed Abubakar.
“An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja. While the commission has complied in accordance with its policy to obey all court orders in deference to the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.”