– The issue of certificate of return for Rochas Okorocha, the Imo west senator-elect, is still very much a source of controversy in the state
– This is as an observer has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no right to withhold the document
– The group went on to say that INEC should issue the certificate of return to Okorocha or prepare to do so in court
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was on Monday, March 25, berated by a poll observer group known as the Women Fest for Better Life Living Initiative for withholding the certificate of return of Rochas Okorocha, the Imo west senator-elect.
Claiming that INEC is going beyond its limit, the group maintained that the electoral body has no right to withhold such document meant for any candidate that wins an election, The Nation reports.
Speaking in Owerri, the capital of Imo state, Emmanuel Azuike, a high-ranking member of the group, said that issue of allegation of duress upon which INEC relying on to hold on to Okorocha’s certificate of return can only be established by a court that has jurisdiction over it.
Azuike said that the claim of Innocent Ibeawuchi, INEC collation officer in the senatorial district was criminal.
Azuike said: “We were observers at Imo west senatorial election and we observed that the election and the entire processes were peaceful and credible.
“We were also at the collation center at Orlu INEC office where the election results were received and we saw that Rochas Okorocha won with a wide margin and the Returning Officer, Prof Innocent Ibeabuchi, declared him winner.
“The Returning Officer, Ibeabuchi was not under any form of duress to announce the results whatsoever, not at gunpoint, knife point or any form of harassment.
“All security Agencies, police, DSS , Army were there for the protection of the Returning Officer, and everybody present in the collation room. For him to say he was under duress was a big lie and deceit of the highest order.
“We hereby urge INEC to issue Rochas Okorocha his certificate of Return as senator-elect of Imo west senatorial zone or we will go to court to compel INEC to issue the certificate of return to the winner of the elections earlier declared.“
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that former Ekiti state resident electoral commissioner, Nduka Eya, had blamed the decision of INEC to withhold Okorocha’s certificate of return on inconsistency on the part of the commission.
Recall that INEC withheld the Imo state governor’s mandatory certificate of return based on the evidence that he was declared winner of the February 23 Imo West senatorial election under duress.