Enugu – Festus Okoye, Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), disclosed on Monday that the commission had withdrawn 25 certificates of return issued to some candidates after the 2019 elections.
The electoral body took the action in compliance with court rulings on election petitions by aggrieved candidates.
Okoye disclosed this at an event, Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Elections, held in Enugu.
He explained that 20 of the 25 certificates of return were withdrawn from the All Progressives Congress (APC) members to other APC members, while two were from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members which were given to other PDP members.
He added that three were withdrawn from APC and PDP members and given to other political parties.
Okoye said: “Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday, the commission had withdrawn 25 certificates of return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that.”
He, therefore, called for continued synergy between the NUJ and INEC to sustain the progress achieved in the electoral process.
Okoye commended media practitioners for their contributions in the struggle for free, fair, and credible elections.
He noted that the media had become the first line of reach of the masses as well as platform for explanation of INEC political and electoral decisions.
Okoye also called on the media and its practitioners to dig deep on the Electoral Act to ensure that the import of the recent amended sections were made known to the public.
“The media should also centre on the aspect of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve electoral issues, especially at the party levels instead of going to the court,’’ he advised.
He described the media as the pillar on which Nigeria democracy stood, and reiterated the commitment of the commission to continue working with the media.
He said: “The gathering here today is apt and timely. There is always the need to review performance and upgrade standards.
“We hope that this forum will also generate information in relation to areas that pose challenges to national security and national interest, issues of fake news, hate and inflammatory speeches, and issues with the potential of threatening law and order.
“I have no doubt that at the end of this discussion we will be informed, and our electoral process will continue to improve, and we will improve on our information management systems.
“It is the responsibility of the media and Nigerians to continue to make suggestions on how to improve the institution and processes and procedures of conducting elections.”
In his address, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, said the media and its practitioners enjoyed vast and robust consultations and meetings with INEC before, during, and after the elections.
He called for all hands to be on deck to continue to ensure free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
He said: “The media and all other stakeholders must support and educate the electorate on the electoral process to enable INEC to continue to deliver free, fair and credible elections.”
Speaking earlier, INEC (Enugu State) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of the processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.
“INEC wants to hear from the media, security agencies, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, etc on how the election fared and whether there were avenues to improve on what we have.
“So, INEC is open to receive your objective deliberation and its outcome and we’ll definitely take a critical look at your outcomes in order to better the electoral processes.”
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