INEC Issues Certificates To Elected Lawmakers

By Etim Ekpimah

The Independent National Electoral Commission, on Wednesday, issued Certificates of Return to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly candidates who were declared winners in the April 11 poll.

The development comes 25 days after they were declared winners.

The action of INEC in the state negates section 75 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which empowers INEC to issue sealed certificates of return to winners within seven days of an election.

The list of elected candidates for the state House of Assembly made available to journalists revealed that the Peoples Democratic Party won in 25 state constituencies while the All Progressives Congress won in Urue Offong/Oruko constituency.

The list also revealed that only one female candidate of the PDP, Felicia Bassey, from the Okobo state constituency made it to the House of Assembly, unlike in the fifth Assembly which had three female lawmakers, namely Alice Ekpenyong (Mbo constituency); Ekaette Okon (Itu constituency) and Sarah Elija of Nsit Atai constituency.

A legal practitioner, Udo George said the implication of the delay in the presentation of certificates of return to candidates showed that the results of the election were manufactured.

He stated that if the elections were properly conducted, the actual number of votes each candidate scored would have been known, adding that the Electoral Act insists that election results should be announced and posted at the polling units.

He noted that none of these was done.

“This shows that the results were manufactured, hence they had to take time to compute the results in their favour,” George said.

However, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Austin Okojie, said there was no room for suspicion as all losers had conceded defeat honourably.

He maintained that another justification for the issuance of the certificate of return was to forestall a situation where two or more persons would claim to be winners of the same election.

He said, “This is in line with section 68 (1) (C) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which provides that once a declaration is made and a candidate is returned by a returning officer, it is only a tribunal or a court of law that can upturn the decision.”

Source: The Punch Newspapers