By Francis Onyeukwu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday cleared air on its decision to withhold certificates of return of Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo and three others.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Electoral Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, said the decision “does not amount to shifting goal post at the middle of a match.“
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Awka that INEC only issue certificate to people who genuinely won elections.
“Issuance of certificates of return is a statutory function of INEC, it is only issued to those who won election and must be done through free will of a returning officer.
“In the case of Imo West Senatorial zone where Okorocha contested, the Otu-Opi Federal Constituency in Benue, Agayi State Constituency and another in Akwa Ibom.
“What INEC is saying is that you can’t engage in bad electoral behaviour and expect INEC to reward you with a certificate.
“Our certificate is only for those who won freely,” he said.
Okoye said the commission has the right not to issue certificate to such persons as it would amount to abnormality.
He said INEC action is not targeted at the voters who voted people of their choice, but to address excesses of those who wanted to use unconventional means to win elections.
“Once we have such case, INEC will not issue certificate, but ensure that the right thing is done,” he said.
He said at the moment that contenders of the positions in all the four affected areas are in court adding that INEC is awaiting for the outcome of the pending matters.
Okoye said if the court orders INEC to issue certificates of return to the people involved, it would do same.
He said if a consequential order is made directing INEC to conduct fresh election in the areas, the commission would do same.