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.

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

There was widespread intimidation and harassment of the commission’s staff during the last presidential and national assembly elections.

In Imo, for instance, 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.

He said materials for the election have been delivered to all states and the FCT and movement to the local government areas to be completed before Friday.

“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.”

The governorship election will hold in 29 states while 991 members of houses of assembly in all the states will be elected alongside six local government chairmen and 62 councillors in the FCT.

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