Certificate of Return: CSOs petition INEC over non-issuance for Imo North senatorial election

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#TrackNigeria: The Coalition for Civil Society has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over an alleged unlawful retention of Certificate of Return for the winner of the Imo North Senatorial District election, Sen. Benjamin Uwajimogwu.

The petition that was addressed to the  INEC Chairman was jointly signed by Mr Johnson Omede and Mr Denielson Momoh, for the Conscience Nigeria, a CSO, which led the Coalition.

The CSO in the petition submitted during a protest at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, urged INEC to disband the committee it had set up to look into the matter arising from the election, and issue certificate of return to Uwajimogu who was already declared winner of the election.

The copy of the letter made available to journalists read: “We write to register our displeasure on the subject matter above.

”Uwajimogwu, is a senator representing Imo North, whose certificate of return is withheld  by the commission after the returning officer declared him duly elected and returned.

“This has revealed a dangerous trend in which the INEC has illegally expanded its reach and constituted itself as a threat to our democracy, appropriating the power of the judiciary unto itself. INEC is not a court of law.

“We, therefore, request you to use your good offices to do what is needful by releasing the said certificate of return to the senator-elect and disband the illegal committee set up on the matter,” it said

Momoh, who spoke earlier during the protest at INEC entrance gate,  said that the petition and the protest, were a follow- up on the 24-hour ultimatum the coalition on Sunday issued to INEC to issue Uwajimogwu his certificate, which he said, had yet to be  complied  with.

He said that once a declaration was made by an Election Retuning Officer, INEC had no right to withhold the winner’s  certificate of return.

He called on INEC to issue Uwajimogwu his certificate in honour of the decision of the people as expressed during the Feb. 23 election, which was concluded with a supplementary election on March 9.

“We have come to submit a petition before INEC and advise them that the committee set up to look into the Imo North Senatorial district election is alien to our constitution.

“INEC had declared a candidate  winner, even the other candidates that participated in the election have approached the Election Petition Tribunal and the tribunal is ongoing, rather than INEC issuing a certificate of return, they are setting up a committee. INEC should not rape our democracy.

“INEC should stand by truth and justice. If INEC wants to do otherwise, we the people of Nigeria will put them on their toes. We are here today to submit a petition saying no to irregularities,” momoh said.

INEC Chief Security Officer, Safety, Mr Ayuba Dikko, who received the letter on behalf of the commission,  commended the protesters for conducting themselves in an orderly manner.

Dikko assured then that the letter would be delivered to the commission for appropriate action.

“I want to assure you that your message will be taken to the commission where appropriate action will be taken on the issue,” he said.

INEC had earlier set up a committee on Imo North senatorial poll.

The commission in a statement signed by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, said the commission had deliberated on the conduct of lmo North Senatorial District election.

Okoye said that the commission noted a number of issues arising from the election and set up a committee to look into them.

“The committee is to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of allegations of misconduct in the election. It is also to advise the commission on whether its procedures were complied with by officials.

“The committee is to submit its report on Wednesday, April 10,” Okoye said. (NAN)

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