A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday ordered Nigeria’s electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to issue Rochas Okorocha a Certificate of Return as Senator-elect.
Concise News understands that the presiding Judge, Justice Okon Abang, ruled that the decision by INEC to deprive Okorocha of the certificate was a “lawless decision.”
According to Justice Abang, only the returning officer of the commission had the constitutional authority to declare a winner.
INEC had said it refused to give the former governor of Imo state Certificate of Return because the returning officer for Imo West senatorial election, Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi, said he was forced to declare Okorocha the winner.
But the Judge held that any person declared a winner by the returning officer remains a winner until petitioners succeed in upturning the declaration at the election tribunal.
Okorocha had claimed that the returning officer lied to INEC that he declared him winner of the poll out of duress.
“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,” the former governor had said.
“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.”