‘No Certificate of Return for Any Candidate Declared Winner Under Duress’ – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not issue certificates of return to any candidate declared winner of an election under duress.

Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, made this known during a meeting with the inter-agency consultative committee on election security held in Abuja on Thursday.

This comes in the wake of reports of widespread intimidation and harassment of the commission’s staff during the last presidential and national assembly elections.

In Imo, Francis Ibeawuchi, INEC returning officer for the Imo west senatorial election, said he was forced to announce Rochas Okorocha, Imo state governor, as winner of the poll.

Yakubu said the commission will not tolerate the intimidation of its staff during Saturday’s elections.

“I am confident that working together with the security agencies, we will consolidate on the largely peaceful conduct of the presidential and national assembly elections while also taking decisive steps to deal with the minority of violators intent on disrupting the conduct of peaceful elections,” he said.

“However, the commission will not tolerate the act of holding our officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress. Where such occurs, the commission will not reward bad behaviour by issuing them certificates of return.”

The INEC chairman added that the commission had put necessary measures in place to ensure voting starts at the scheduled time of 8am.

“By tomorrow, all materials and relevant personnel will arrive at the Registration Area Centres (RACs),” he said, adding: “With this arrangement, we are confident that all polling units will open at 8am nationwide.”

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