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No certificate of return for any candidate declared winner under duress — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it will not issue certificates of return to any candidate declared winner of an election under duress.

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman Mahmood Yakubu addresses the audience on February 25, 2019 in Abuja during the presidential elections announcement. – Muhammadu Buhari got off to a winning start in his bid for re-election as Nigeria’s president, as the first result was announced today from weekend polls. The 76-year-old former military ruler won 219,231 votes in the southwestern state of Ekiti, while his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar, got 154,032, the electoral commission announced. (Photo AFP)

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

There were 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 the winner of the poll.

Yakubu said the commission will not tolerate the intimidation of its staff during Saturday’s elections.

He said: “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.”

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“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.”

‘MEASURES IN PLACE TO ENSURE POLLS OPEN AT 8AM

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.”

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