Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha has faulted Inec’s decision to withhold his senatorial Certificate of Return, saying it is “only the tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared.”
The Returning Officer for the February 23 Imo West senatorial election, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi, had alleged that he was forced to declare Okorocha the winner of the poll by the supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Okorocha, according to the result, polled 97,762 votes to finish ahead of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jones Onyereri, who got 68,117 votes and All Progressive Grand Alliance’s Osita Izunaso, who finished on 30,084 votes.
But the university lecturer told newsmen that because he feared for his life he had to announce the result which he claimed was inconclusive, due to the electoral fraud in eight local government areas.
To this end, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) did not include Okorocha’s name in the list of newly elected senators.
The electoral umpire published the list on Monday, March 11.
“In my own case, my Certificate of Return has not been issued and I wonder why INEC will withhold my Certificate for a frivolous reason, without hearing from me. I am not a violent person and those who know me know that. This is why we have peace in Imo State,” the outgoing governor said at the state’s Government House in Owerri.
“The Returning Officer could not have done that under duress under the watchful eyes of the Police, DSS and party agents. I am not unmindful of the facts that those who are fighting me from Abuja are anxious to see me removed as a Senator. I urge INEC to do the right thing immediately by releasing my Certificate.
“Let me tell every Nigerian that I fought no one and no one should fight me. If anyone fights me, he will be the loser at the end of it all. My INEC Certificate cannot be touched or seized, doing so is belittling democracy in Nigeria. It is only the Tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared. INEC cannot seize my Certificate by mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”