The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return issued to some candidates that won the 2019 general election in compliance with court orders.
Festus Okoye, chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), made the disclosure yesterday in Enugu at a ‘Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Elections.’
According to Okoye 20 of the 25 certificates-of-return were withdrawn from All Progressives Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.
He further said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP; and given to other political parties.
He said: “Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday; the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that.”
Okoye, however, said that those whose certificate-of-returns were withdrawn could still reclaim them if they appeal the court ruling that ruled against them.
“INEC is not an adjudicatory body, but always obeys court rulings. If by tomorrow the appeal reverses the ruling of the lower court, INEC will comply accordingly. So we are still waiting for more rulings. It is a continuous process,” he said.
Commending the media, Okoye, said the Commission was impressed by the level of openness and robust engagement before, during and after the election, adding that the media had become critical stakeholders for the success of future elections.
The Chairman of IVEC noted that the media had become the first-line of reach of the masses as well as platform for explanation of INEC political and electoral decisions.
He urged the media and its practitioners to dig deep into the Electoral Act to ensure that the import of the recent amended sections are 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,” he advised.
In his remarks, Chris Isiguzo, president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said that 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 given the resources and length of 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; so that the electoral and democratic processes can be better even as we go into off season elections,” he said.
Regis Anukwuoji, Enugu