By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it would not be stampeded into issuing certificate of return to senatorial candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for Imo North in the last general elections, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu.The Prof. Mahmood Jega-led INEC made the declaration yesterday in response to a protest on Monday by some persons at the commission’s headquarters calling for the issuance of certificate of returns to Uwajumogu.The Commission, in a statement yesterday by its National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, maintained that its 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 insisted that it is interested in obeying the courts, stressing that this has nothing to do with the political affiliation of the candidates or the aggrieved parties.
Uwajumogu had led a protest to the INEC headquarters on Monday demanding a certificate of return based on an order by an Abuja Federal High Court.
However, in the statement by Barr. Festus Okoye, INEC said though it has been served with court judgment on July 16, it has not taken a decision.The statement reads, “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 precipitate action or decision that may be detrimental to the electoral process and procedures,” Okoye stated.
He stated that as at July 22nd, the commission has withdrawn and re-issued 87 certificates of return to different candidates based on court orders.
It added, “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 is therefore interested in obeying the courts and this has nothing to do with the political affiliation of the candidates or the aggrieved parties,” Okoye assured.
According to him, INEC does not make a distinction between orders made in its favor and orders made against it, adding that the commission was interested in the rule of law and due process.
He disclosed that all court orders were subjected to the processes and procedures of the commission, stating that this was “to prevent giving effect to fraudulent court orders or giving wrong interpretation to orders of court.
Continuing, Okoye said, “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”.