The Independent Nation Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, January 20, said that it still stands by its declarations for the 2019 elections despite the Supreme Court judgments that reversed some of the election results declared by the Commission.
The Commission has recently come under severe criticism following the reversal of the Imo State governorship election by the apex Court.
INEC in the Imo governorship election had declared the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Emeka Ihedioha winner with 273,404 votes, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma who was returned by the Supreme as the authentic winner was placed fourth with 96,458 votes by INEC.
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC National Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a chat with The Nation stated that “once INEC makes a declaration, it stands by it”.
According to him, “the law provides for any aggrieved party or candidate to go to the Election Petitions Tribunal to contest a declared election result. Once INEC makes a declaration, it stands by it”.
Giving graphic detail of the conduct of the 2019 general elections, Oyekanmi, observed that, “a total of 807 post-election petitions were filed at the Tribunals after the 2019 general elections. Out of these, 582 were dismissed, 183 were withdrawn by the petitioners and 30 reruns were ordered.
“About 12 Certificates of Return have also been issued. When you consider the fact that elections were conducted into 1,558 constituencies for the 2019 general elections, you will agree with me that the overall elections have by far been credible, free and fair”.
On the use of University Vice Chancellors as Returning Officers for future elections, which has also been criticized, the Commission disclosed that no decision has been reached whether to review the use of certain categories of academic staff of Federal Universities as Returning Officers.
It added that “while it is true that some of them made mistakes as human beings during the 2019 General Elections, most of them performed excellently”.
On the January 25 rerun elections INEC revealed that, “our template for the conduct of elections has not changed since our actions are guided by the extant laws.
“The voting and declaration procedures have not changed. For instance, the Smart Card Readers will still be used and the “People’s Result Sheet” will still be pasted at a conspicuous place at the polling unit level where the rerun elections will take place. The Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) will also be used and it is fact compulsory. No PVC, no voting. Besides, the system of simultaneous accreditation and voting will also apply”.
” There is no proliferation of INEC sensitive materials and politicians do not have access to them. To be sure, our sensitive materials have special security features. If any politician is found with any sensitive material, it must be fake and such politician will be arrested and prosecuted.”