CSOs Give INEC Ultimatum to Issue Certificate of Return to Imo North Senator-elect

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja 

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations has given the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) 24 hours’ ultimatum, to issue the Certificate of Return to Senator Ben Uwajimogu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or it would have no choice than to occupy the headquarters of the commission.

The coalition led by Conscience Nigeria and Stand-Up Nigeria, said that Uwajimogu, was returned elected as a Senator representing Imo North on March 9, 2019, in a supplementary election, but subsequently denied a Certificate of Return by the commission.

 Although, the commission had in a statement last week said it had deliberated on the conduct of lmo North senatorial district election held on February 23 and March 9, 2019.

The electoral umpire said it had also noted a number of issues arising from the election and set up a committee to look into them.

It added that the committee was to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of allegations of misconduct in the election; advise the commission on whether its procedures were complied with by officials.

The committee is to submit its report on Wednesday, April 10.

But, addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the Coordinator of the Coalition, Johnson Omede, said INEC had decided  not to operate by any known standard electoral procedures through which it could be appropriately measured for fairness.

According to Omede, INEC’s action was inimical to free, fair and credible elections and capable of truncating the country’s democracy.

He noted that the various outcomes of the 2019 elections have revealed a dangerous trend in which the INEC has illegally expanded its reach and constituted itself as a threat to the country’s democracy, appropriating the power of the judiciary unto itself.

Omede argued that INEC is not a court of law.

The coalition said: “Therefore, in order to quickly avert this emerging danger, the civil society, Nigerians and indeed the international community must quickly rise up to prevent the commission from undermining our electoral process and overreaching itself. This is unacceptable.

“Sadly, it is now difficult to understand INEC’s impartiality as an umpire that has no partisan attachment. There are allegations the commission has been compromised by different interests to act differently in different situations. Unfortunately, it is difficult for we in the civil society to come to the aid of INEC over its failure to act in a fair manner.

 “We give 24 hours ultimatum to INEC to issue the Certificate of Return to the senator-elect  and failure to comply, we will occupy INEC headquarters. We invite all well meaning Nigerians to join us to pickett their office.”