Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue; and his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, on Friday received their Certificates of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Makurdi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the newly-elected legislators, who also received their certificates are: the incumbent Speaker, Benue House of Assembly, Mr Titus Uba and 29 other members-elect.
The INEC Federal Commissioner in charge of Benue, Anambra and Enugu states, Mr Festus Okoye, presented the certificates to the governor, his deputy and the legislators-elect at the IBB square.
He blamed incidents of ballot-box snatching and thuggery on politicians.
He absolved the commission of such electoral infractions, saying the commission never recruited ballot-box snatchers and thugs.
Okoye also blamed politicians for refusing to play the game according to the rules.
He, therefore, appealed to the media to focus their searchlights on the political parties and politicians, pointing out that INEC did its best in conducting the polls.
He lambasted political parties for the shoddy manner in which party primaries were conducted and regretted that the commission was suffering the aftermath of such poor primaries by court orders handed down to it.
Speaking after receiving the certificate, Ortom commended President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering in the 2019 elections despite alleged “immense pressure” from party members.
“I commend President Buhari for not interfering in the electoral process in spite of the immense pressure from his party supporters to do so.
“If he had interfered in the process, maybe, the peace we are enjoying today while receiving these certificates would not have been there.”
He said that the President’s decision to allow the votes of Benue people to count was commendable and promised to work with him to bring dividends of democracy to the state.
The governor also commended the INEC, their agents for the high display of professionalism during the elections despite the untoward attitude of some politicians.
He, however, appealed to the commission to improve its performances in subsequent elections.
Ortom also commended the entire security operatives in the state for their neutrality during the elections, saying, “I am yet to receive any report of security interference in the elections.”
He appealed to politicians to eschew bitterness and join him to move the state forward.
Earlier, the Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Nentawe Yelwatda, said the 2019 elections witnessed 22 per cent increment of voters’ participation in the elections.
Yelwatda also said that there was a high level of rejected votes recorded by the commission, and urged the commission to step up its voter education.
He blamed the supplementary elections on politicians in the state who refused to play the game in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and Regulations and Guidelines for the 2019 elections.
He commended INEC’s permanent and ad-hoc staffers and security operatives for their contributions to the success of the polls.