Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned that no amount of pressure from protesters will stampede it into issuing a certificate of return to the senator-elect for the Imo North senatorial zone, Benjamin Uwajumogu.
In a statement signed by National Commissioner and chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the commission advised Uwajumogu to wait until the commission’s next meeting to decide his case.
“In the case of Imo North senatorial district, the commission was served with the judgement of the court on Wednesday July 16, 2019, and the commission had its regular commission’s meeting on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
“The said judgement could not undergo the regular processes and procedures of the commission and must wait for the next commission’s meeting. The commission will not be stampeded into taking precipitated action or decision that may be detrimental to the electoral process and procedures,” the commission warned.
Insisting that the commission is a law-abiding institution, Okoye revealed that the commission had withdrawn and re-issued 87 Certificates of Return since the end of the 2019 general elections.
“As of July 22, 2019, the commission has withdrawn and re-issued 87 Certificates of Return. The commission withdrew three certificates of return from the APC and issued to NNPP, and NRM. The commission withdrew 44 certificates of return from APC and issued to the PDP (arising mostly from the Supreme Court decision on the Zamfara APC party primary election). The commission withdrew 40 certificates from the APC and re-issued to APC candidates,” the statement read.
“The commission has a history and record of obedience to orders. The commission does not make a distinction between orders made in its favour and orders made against it. The commitment of the commission is to the rule of law and due process and the growth of the democratic process.
“Despite the challenges of the party primary elections, the commission has cancelled, and withdrawn certificates of return based on the orders of different courts of law.
“However, all court orders are subjected to the processes and procedures of the commission. The commission must receive or be served with the court order and if it is represented, it processes the court order and subjects it to its processes and procedures.
“The Legal Department of the Commission studies and analyses the orders of courts and fleshes out what the court expects of the commission to ensure full compliance.
“Thereafter, the Legal Department of the commission forwards a memo to the Legal Services, Clearance and Compliance Committee of the Commission which deliberates on the memo from the Legal Services Department and thereafter prepares a memo for presentation to the Commission containing the prayers and actions by the Commission.
“At the end of deliberations, the Commission approves the prayer or amends the prayer or rejects the prayer.
“The commission adheres to these processes and procedures to prevent giving effect to fraudulent Court Orders or giving wrong interpretation to Orders of Court.
“We have instances where the Commission declared as unenforceable Court Orders that required it to issue Certificates of Return in respect of Constituencies and Senatorial Districts not known to the law and the Constitution.
“The Commission has declared as unenforceable Court Orders that ordered it to withdraw certificates of return as third Respondent and Issue to third Respondent. The Commission is therefore interested in obeying the Courts and this has nothing to do with the political affiliation of the candidates or the aggrieved parties.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission is a Commission of the Nigerian people and not that of any political tendency. Our commitment is to the rule of law and the enthronement of clean electoral process and in discharging this duty, the Commission will not waver, be blackmailed or intimidated,” the commission warned in the statement.