INEC Withdraws 25 Certificates of Return

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Christopher Isiguzo and Gideon Arinze in Enugu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has withdrawn 25 certificates of return issued to some candidates who participated in the 2019 general election.

Speaking yesterday at a ‘Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Election,’ held in Enugu, INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, said the commission took the action based on court orders.

Okoye said 20 of the 25 certificates were withdrawn from members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and given to other APC members while two were withdrawn from members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and issued to other PDP members.

He said the other three were withdrawn from both the APC and PDP and given to other political parties.

“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday, the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates of return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,” he said.

Okoye lauded the media for its openness and “robust engagement” with the commission before, during and after the election, adding that the media had become critical stakeholders for the success of future elections.

He said the media had become the first line of reach of the masses as well as a platform for the explanation of INEC’s political and electoral decisions.

Okoye called on the media and its practitioners to dig deep into the Electoral Act to ensure that the import of the recently amended sections is made known to the public.

“The media should also centre on the aspect of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve electoral issues especially at the party levels instead of going to the court,” Okoye said.

Also speaking at the event, the President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, said the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust relationship with INEC before, during and after the elections.

Isiguzo said that INEC performed creditably well given the resources and the co-operation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes.

“However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system.

“We would be open and say it as it is so that the electoral and democratic processes can be better even as we go into off-season elections,’’ he said.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, noted that the evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.

“INEC wants to hear from the media, security agencies, civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and others on how the election fared. Whether there are avenues to improve on what we have.

“So, INEC is open to receive your objective deliberations and its outcome and we definitely take a critical look at your outcomes in order to better the electoral processes,’’ Ononamadu assured.