Okorocha Petitions INEC Over Withholding Certificate Of Return
Okorocha Petitions INEC Over Withholding Certificate Of Return

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over withholding his certificate of return for the Imo West Senatorial District.

Okorocha urged the chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, to release his certificate of return without delay and not to set a bad precedence by withholding his certificate after he had been declared winner of the election.

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The petition by Okorocha raised concerns over an alleged conspiracy with political opponents and the commission.

The governor added that INEC has no jurisdiction to question the authenticity of the election is conducted.

However, Okorocha argued in his petition that if there were issues with the election after the announcement of a winner, recourse ought to be made to election tribunals.

He said, “Section 285 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, states that there shall be established for the Federation one or more elections tribunal to be known as the National Assembly Elections Tribunal which shall, to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether (a) any person has been validly elected as a member of the National Assembly,” he wrote.

“Section 133 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in a manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or an undue return presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, and in which the person elected or returned is joined as a party.”

Okorocha asked where INEC derived the power to withhold certificate of return after a winner in an election had been announced.

He argued that the step taken by INEC is not known to law and advised the commission to seek redress in the law court rather than taking laws into its own hand.

Okorocha noted that INEC, in its counter-affidavit to the suit he filed at the federal high court to compel it to issue him his certificate of return, did not mention any allegation to the fact that his declaration was made under duress.

“In the replies filed by INEC to the petitions filed against me by Osita Izuanso, Jones Onyeyeri, Peoples Democratic Party and Uche Onyeoma Ibeh at the Election Tribunal in Owerri, INEC actually stated that my election was duly conducted and that the declaration and return made in my favour by the Returning Officer was voluntary and not due to any duress or coercion exerted on the Returning Officer,” he said.