Okwe Obi, Abuja
Over 10 civil society organisations (CSOs) have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Snator Ben Uwajumogu, the acclaimed winner of Imo North senatorial district poll.
Uwajumogu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner by INEC, but is yet to receive his certificate of return due to alleged electoral malfeasance.
President of Conscience Nigeria, Barr Johnson Omede, while addressing newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja, urged INEC to first issue Uwajumogu his certificate of return and allow the court to determine his fate, rather than “usurping judicial function.”
“The case of Imo North senatorial district, where Uwajumogu was returned elected as a senator on March 9, 2019, in a supplementary election, but, subsequently, denied a certificate of return by the commission, has added to other illegal and extra electoral meddlesomeness of INEC across the country.
“Unfortunately, while INEC is yet to issue the senator-elect his certificate, other candidates and their political parties, have gone ahead to challenge his victory at the tribunal, in what could qualify as a case of double electoral jeopardy. Nobody should suffer this kind of electoral oppression in a democracy. It is unfair and unjust.
“We are calling on INEC not to usurp the function of the judiciary. The commission is an electoral umpire and no amount of committees it can constitute to review election outcomes can replace the constitutional role of our courts in electoral matters.
“We advise INEC to immediately issue certificate of return to Uwajumogu, who was duly returned elected by the good people of Imo North to represent them in the Ninth Senate.
“INEC should immediately disband any committee set up illegally to review a mandate freely and democratically given to the senator, and allow the tribunal to adjudicate on the matter,” he said.
Another member, Prince Danielson Momoh, however, vowed that if within 24 hours the electoral umpire fails to do the needful, they would mobilise hundreds of CSOs to shut down INEC office, and possibly assist them do their jobs efficiently.
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis of Imo North Political Leaders Forum, has faulted a call by coalition of civil society organisations to INEC to issue certificate to Uwajumogu.
In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, National Secretary of the Forum, Regis Uwakwe, asked INEC to ignore the mundane call and ultimatum, describing it as a threat to democracy.
“We are aware that two unregistered organisations claiming to represent a coalition of civil society organisations ‘Conscience Nigeria’ and Stand Up Nigeria, have issued a 24-hour ultimatum to INEC, mandating it to issue a certificate of return to Uwajumogu as senator-elect,” the group said.
The CSO had given INEC ultimatum to issue a certificate of return to Uwajumogu as senator-elect.
The Okigwe leaders group called on INEC to declare the authentic result of the senatorial poll held on February 23 and March 9, which they claimed was won by the PDP candidate, Patrick Ndubueze.
The group said the delay in the announcement of the result could lead to breakdown of law and order, as those who voted in the election already know the result and are becoming restive.
However, the group commended INEC for setting up a national committee on Imo North senatorial election, to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of allegations of misconduct and compliance with INEC procedure.
They also called on security agencies to prosecute the Returning Officer, Prof. Donatus Ohajianya, who was alleged to have attempted to announce fake result when collation was ongoing.