The Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha has asked the Independent National electoral commission (INEC) to urgently present him his certificate of return as the Senator-Elect for the Imo West Senatorial district election.
Addressing newsmen at the government house in Owerri the Imo state capital, The Governor says INEC does not have any moral or constitutional justification for withholding his certificate of return by acting on a mere allegation by the returning officer Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi who might be playing a script by his political enemies.
“I cannot understand how a mere allegation of somebody, an individual, talking about duress, which has not been proven by anybody, will stop INEC from giving me my certificate of return for an election that I won properly.”
“I cannot understand why an individual’s report of a professor who lied, will now be taken more than the report by the Nigeria Police, State Security Service, that said there was no crisis, everything was peaceful. The returning officer should be called to order.”
He urged INEC to release his Certificate of return so the issue will not cause any constitutional and political problem for the country in future. “INEC has no moral justification to release certificate of return to someone who, knowingly, flouted the Nigerian constitution and refusing to give someone his certificate, who won duly.”
The electoral body had insisted that it will not issue a certificate of return to Okorocha, who was declared the winner of the election by the returning officer Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi, after alleging that he announced the result out of duress. Okorocha has, however, taken the matter to court.
Recall that an observer group ridiculed the Independent National Electoral Commission for withholding the Certificate of Return of Imo West senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha. The gatherings noticed that the discretionary umpire is violating its bonds, adding that it comes up short on the forces to stop any candidate after the individual in question has been announced victor.
At a question and answer session in Owerri, Emmanuel Azuike of the Women Fest for Better Life Living Initiative, an Independent Observer gathering, said that the issue ofallegation of duress upon which INEC depending on to retain the Certificate of Return must be built up by a Court of competent jurisdiction. According to him, the claim by the Collation Officer, Innocent Ibeawuchi, was ridiculous as well as criminal.
He said, ”we were observers at Imo West Senatorial election and we observed that the election and the entire processes were peaceful and credible. We were also at the collation center at Orlu INEC office where the election results were received and we saw that Rochas Okorocha won with a wide margin and the Returning Officer, Prof Innocent Ibeabuchi, declared him winner”.
He continued that, “the Returning Officer, Ibeabuchi was not under any form of duress to announce the results whatsoever, not at gunpoint, knife point or any form of harassment. All security Agencies, police, DSS, Army were there for the protection of the Returning Officer, and everybody present in the collation room.”
“For him to say he was under duress was a big lie and deceit of the highest order. We hereby urge INEC to issue Rochas Okorocha his certificate of Return as senator-elect of Imo west senatorial zone or we will go to court to compel INEC to issue the Certificate of Return to the winner of the elections earlier declared.