The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday insisted that it would not reward bad conduct by presenting certificates of return to candidates who its officials declared winners under duress.

The commission, however said it could issue the certificates based on court judgement or decision of an election petitions tribunal.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this during a press conference held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

Okoye said apart from the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, there were other candidates from Niger, Benue and Akwa Ibom states who were also denied certificates of return for being declared winners under duress.

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He said, “The position of the commission has not changed. The position of the commission is that we will not issue certificate of return to Governor Rochas Okorocha in relation to the senatorial election.

“Since the matter is already in court, the best thing to do is not to prejudge the matter that is in court, but to allow the judicial processes to run through.

“If at the end of the day, the court gives an order that we should give him his certificate of return, of course, the commission will obey such a court order.

“If on the other hand, the court takes a different position and makes other consequential orders in relation to the conduct of the elections in Imo West, we will also comply with whatever order the court gives.

“As of today, the matter is pending in court, the best thing to do is to wait for the outcome of the judicial process.”

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Okoye also said the resumption of collation and announcements of results for the governorship election in Rivers State would be done between April 2 and 5.

Okoye said, “The commission set up a fact-finding committee that visited Rivers State and submitted its report, which 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.

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“Collation was ongoing at the time of the suspension of the process.”

Okoye also announced that supplementary elections, where necessary, would now take place on April 13, while issuance of all outstanding certificates of return would be concluded on April 19.

He said certificates of return in respect for governors-elect shall be presented by supervising national commissioners of the respective states between March 27 and March 29.

He also said the precise date for the presentation in each state would be made known by the respective resident electoral commissioners after consultation with the supervising national commissioners. (Punch)