21st March 2019
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed 27th 28th and 29th March for the presentation of Certificates of Return to Governors-elect, according to its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Barrister Festus Okoye.
Speaking at a media briefing held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the Federal capital Territory (FCT) earlier today, Okoye said the certificates will be presented by National Commissioners (NCs) supervising the respective states and will be assisted by Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and Legal Officers of the Commission. But the precise date for the presentation in each state, he added, will be made known by the RECs in consultation with the NCs.
However, the date for the presentation of Certificates of Return to winners of the State Houses of Assembly elections will be announced in due course.
Okoye also informed journalists that the Commission will conduct supplementary elections in 18 States on 23rd March. According to him, security agencies gave the Commission their assurances of adequate security and professional conduct at a meeting between the two parties held on 19th March in Abuja.
He said all observers and media organization already accredited to cover the 2019 general elections are free to observe the elections, and will be given unimpeded access to polling units, collation and material distribution centres.
He said: “The INEC situation room will be activated on Saturday 23rd March. Nigerians can reach the Commission via its social media platforms. The Commission encourages all registered voters in the areas where elections will be conducted to come out and cast their ballots. We also appeal to all stakeholders for continuous support.”
On the pending court cases in Bauchi and Adamawa States, Okoye said: “The Commission has conducted governorship elections in 29 states and returns have been made in 22 states. While the election was suspended in Rivers, it was declared inconclusive in 6 states, namely Bauchi, Adamawa (North East); Benue and Plateau (North Central) and Sokoto and Kano (North West).
“The supplementary governorship election earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi state is now a subject of litigation which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Mohammed A. Abubakar. An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the Commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja. While the Commission has complied in accordance with its policy to obey all court orders in deference to the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.
“Following the inconclusive governorship elections in the 6 states, the Commission fixed supplementary elections for the 23rd of March 2019.
“It should however be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affect the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. Consequently, the supplementary elections will proceed as scheduled on Saturday 23rd March in the other 15 Local Government Areas of Bauchi state, as well as the Kirfi State Constituency Supplementary Election in Kirfi Local Government Area.
“Similarly, the Adamawa State High court issued an injunction restraining the Commission from proceeding with the supplementary election following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party which did not take part in the main election. While the Commission has also complied with the order, it has equally taken steps to vacate it and dismiss the action.
“Notwithstanding the legal action over the Supplementary Governorship election, elections will hold in Nassarawo/Binyeri State Constituency in Mayo – Belwa Local government area where the election had to be countermanded following the death of a candidate before the polls, as well as the supplementary State Constituency election and Uba/Gaya State Constituency in Hong Local Government Area.”
On Rivers, the National Commissioner averred that the Fact-Finding Committee set up by the Commission to visit the state and investigate the circumstances surrounding the violent disruption of the electoral process on 9th and 10th March, which compelled the Commission to suspend activities, submitted its report which established certain facts.
The report, he explained, revealed that “while election could not hold in a few areas, it was successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies. Collation was (also) ongoing at the time of the suspension of activities.”
To that extent, Okoye announced the activities and timelines lined up for the resumption and conclusion of the process. According to the timetable, separate meetings with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) and stakeholders have been scheduled for 29th and 30th March respectively in Port Harcourt.
The Commission will issue Guidelines for the resumption of collation of results on 1st of April at its headquarters in Abuja, while the revalidation of polling agents and observers for the collation of results will take place in Abuja and Port Harcourt between 25th and 31st March.
The resumption of collation and announcement of results will take place between 2nd and 5th April. Supplementary election will hold where necessary on 13th April, to be followed by the announcement of results of all supplementary elections between 13th and 15th April. Outstanding Certificates of Results will be issued latest by 19th April.