We will not issue certificate of return for candidates declared winner under duress – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said it will not issue Certificates of Return to candidates in places where its officials are held hostage or forced to declare winners under duress in the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections on Saturday (tomorrow).

The commission also threatened to record zero vote and cancel the results of polling units where its personnel deliberately failed to deploy the Smart Card Readers.

“Some of our staff were abducted and taken hostage in an attempt to disrupt elections or influence the outcome. In fact, some of the supplementary elections were caused by such acts of thuggery.

“I am confident that working together with the security agencies, we will consolidate 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.

“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.

“We have once again reconfigured the Smart Card Readers for the elections on Saturday. The use of the card readers is mandatory and there will be no exemption to their deployment for accreditation of voters.

“Under our regulations and guidelines, there are clear penalties for the deliberate failure to deploy them on the part of our members of staff. Where such happens with the connivance of communities, the result of election in the polling unit(s) will be cancelled and zero vote will be recorded.”