Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A candidate in the last National Assembly election for Imo North senatorial district, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, yesterday led a protest to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), where he demanded his certificate of return without further delay.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in his judgment had instructed INEC to “immediately issue the applicant, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu a sealed certificate of return”, saying that “INEC does not have the power and right under any law in Nigeria to review or otherwise deal with any question related or connected to the declaration and Return of the Applicant for the Imo North senatorial district election held on February 23 and March 9, 2019 after the returning officer has taken a decision.”
But in a swift response, the commission said that it would not be stampeded into taking precipitate action or decision that may be detrimental to the electoral process and procedures.
While addressing journalists, Uwajimogu wondered why the commission refused to honour the court order three weeks after.
He said: “As law-abiding citizens we approached the Federal High Court, which about three weeks ago gave judgment in our favour demanding that INEC should do the needful. Up till today, INEC has refused to release the certificate.”
Uwajumogu alleged that there are people working in cahoots with some of his opponent and INEC to ensure that his certificate of return was not released.
According to him, “Some of other people who have been given certificate did not have to go through any committee before they gave them their own certificate of return, why is my own going through this process?
“When a proper court of competent jurisdiction has given an order, how do you refuse an order of court? What we are asking INEC is I’m here to collect my Certificate of Return today and INEC must produce my Certificate of Return today and I am asking them to do that to forestall the breakdown of law and order.”
Earlier, a group under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Imo North senatorial district had earlier gave 24 hours to the commission to issue certificate of return.
The Director General, Benjamin Uwajumogu Campaign Organisation, Mathew Omegara, in a letter addressed to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that on no account should INEC be seen appealing against judgments, or taking sides with any political party.
Meanwhile, the commission has said that it would not be not be stampeded into taking precipitate action or decision that may be detrimental to the electoral process and procedures.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Educational and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this when Uwajumogu, led a protest to the headquarters of commission.
He stressed that the commission has a history and record of obedience to order and does not make a distinction between order made in its favor and orders made against it.
Okoye noted that the commitment of the commission is to the rule of law and due process and the growth of the democratic process.