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Why we accepted Bayelsa, Kogi election results —INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Wednesday it accepted the results of the November 16 governorship polls in Bayelsa and Kogi states because it was not empowered by law to cancel any election.

The commission stated this during an interactive session organised in Abuja by Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room to review the elections.

INEC insisted that section 26 of the Electoral Act only empowers it to postpone any impending election.

The INEC’s National Commissioner of Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, who disclosed these, said the Commission was helpless despite calls for the governorship election results to be cancelled.

According to him, the judiciary had in some of its recent judgments made matters worse for INEC when it held that the Commission’s chairman lacks statutory powers to cancel any return that was made by the Returning Officer in any election.

Okoye said it was not enough for the Civil Society Organisations to call for an urgent review of the Electoral Act when the political elites had continued to sabotage the democratic process.A

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He said: “My understanding of the whole issue, especially on Electoral reform is that electoral designs alone will never and can never solve the problem or our electoral challenges unless we have a concomitant will. Unless the elites in this country believe in our democracy and the democratic system, even if we amend our laws 100 times it will not solve our problem.

“The second issue is that those of us who are in INEC and CSOs have a responsibility to understand the processes and procedures of the Commission and how it functions and some of the powers donated to the Commission, the limitations of those powers and how they can be exercised and how they cannot be exercised.

“I say this because on the issue of cancellation and whether INEC could have cancelled the elections, my own understanding of the rules of interpretation is that when the intention of the legislature is very clear, you give a particular provision its ordinary meaning. You can’t give any other meaning into the provisions of the law if the intentions of the lawmakers are very clear.”

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