The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appears not to be in a hurry to obey the order of Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja directing it to issue a Certificate of Return to ex-governor Rochas Okorocha as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.
But reacting to the judgement, INEC said it had commenced State-level reviews of the 2019 general elections while all its National Commissioners “are either in or heading to their States of Supervision to coordinate activities relating to the said review.”
The Commission warned that should electoral impunity be allowed to flourish, any individual can harass, intimidate and put the commission officers under duress, procure a favourable declaration and be rewarded with a Certificate of Return.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement issued on Friday, said in view of the import and directives of the FHC judgement, it would meet as soon as practicable to do the needful.
The statement reads: “The attention of INEC has been drawn to the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by the Hon. Justice Okon Abang, directing the commission to issue a Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.
“The commission is also aware of and has been served with the Order of a High Court of Imo State, presided over by Hon. Justice Njemanze, directing the Commission not to issue a CoR to any of the candidates that contested the Imo West Senatorial District election. The Order from the High Court of Imo State was issued on May 23 2019 and the suit has been further adjourned to June 26 2019.
“The commission is aware that the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court, Abuja is the latest in time and determined the rights of the parties in relation to the subject matter of the Certificate of Return, in respect of the Imo West Senatorial Election.
“The commission is currently undertaking State level reviews of the 2019 general elections and all the National Commissioners are either in or heading to their States of Supervision to coordinate activities relating to the said review.
“In view of the import and directives of the said judgement, the commission will meet as soon as practicable to do the needful. As a law-abiding institution, the commission will continue to obey judgements of all courts of competent jurisdiction.
“However, the commission’s overriding consideration is the safety of its ad-hoc staff, Electoral Officers and Collation/Returning Officers and is worried that if electoral impunity is allowed to flourish, any individual can harass, intimidate and put the Commission’s officers under duress, procure a favourable declaration and be rewarded with a CoR.”