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Court orders: INEC withdraws 25 Certificates-of-Return

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has withdrawn 25 Certificates-of-Return issued to some candidates that won during the 2019 General Elections, following court orders.

The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr Festus Okoye, said this at a ‘Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Elections’ held in Enugu on Monday.

Okoye noted that 20 of the 25 certificates-of-return were withdrawn from All Progressives Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.

He said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP, and were given to other political parties.

“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday; the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,’’ he said.

Okoye, however, lauded the media for its openness and robust engagement with the commission before, during and after the election, adding that the media had become critical stakeholders for the success of future elections.

He noted that the media had become the first line of reach of the masses as well as a platform for the explanation of INEC political and electoral decisions.

Okoye, therefore, called on the media and its practitioners to dig deep into the Electoral Act to ensure that the impact of the recently amended sections is made known to the public.

“The media should also centre on the aspect of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve electoral issues especially at the party levels instead of going to the court,’’ he advised.

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Speaking, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Chris Isiguzo, said that the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust relationship with INEC before, during and after the elections.

Isiguzo said that INEC performed creditably well given the resources and length of co-operation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes.

“However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system.

“We would be open and say it as it; so that the electoral and democratic processes can be better even as we go into off-season elections,’’ he said.

In a welcome address, Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.

“INEC wants to hear from the media, security agencies, civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations etc on how the election fared. Whether there are avenues to improve on what we have.

“So, INEC is open to receive your objective deliberations and its outcome and we definitely take a critical look at your outcomes in order to better the electoral processes,’’ Ononamadu assured.

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