Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has taken the controversy over the withholding of his certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to President Muhammadu Buhari after the announcement of his controversial victory in the February 23 National Assembly election in the Imo State senatorial contest. The Imo Governor was invariably in Abuja on Monday to beg President Buhari for intervention and to prevail on the INEC to release the certificate of return to him as a duly elected senator in Imo State.
Okorocah after the private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, told State House Correspondents that he is confident that the INEC will issue a Certificate of Return to him as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District. The Imo governor expressed optimism that President Buhari would intervene to restore his controversial electoral victory that was heralded by violence and intimidation against the returning officer assigned to the senatorial district.
The returning officer had before announcing the result for Imo West Senatorial District declared that he was forced to announce the governor winner of the February 23 senatorial election under duress. He narrated that he was held captive and placed under serious threat, adding that he had t announce the result to save his life because of his wife and children. He finally declared that he was announcing the result under duress. Accordingly, INEC declared that winners whose results were announced under duress will not be issued certificate of return, and therefore, expunged Okorocha’s name from the list of newly elected senators in Nigeria, and subsequently, withheld the Imo governor’s Certificate of Return for the Imo West Senatorial District. However, INEC has taken no further decision on the next action to take.
Okorocha has gone to a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel INEC to issue him a certificate of return.
The governor had declared: “As it stands today, I am just waiting patiently for the release of my certificate of return for an election that I duly won.
“And I am hoping that INEC will release my certificate as I have not contravened any section of the constitution, neither have I done anything wrong to warrant the withholding of my certificate.
“I pray and hope that INEC will do what is just and right.
“INEC conducted elections, results were declared by the returning officer and I won; only to hear one week later that somebody wrote a petition that he made that declaration under duress; the question is where?
“Was it in his private house or at the collation centre? If it was at the collation centre, members of the SSS were there, policemen were there, as well as international observers and INEC officials.
“So, who actually put him under duress? The man has not been able to say that; he has never made a statement about that. So I think INEC will want to do the right thing very soon.”
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