Okorocha asks court to compel INEC to issue his certificate of return

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha
Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on Wednesday, asked the Federal High Court Abuja to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), to issue him with a Certificate of Return as the senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, Mr Okorocha argued that INEC lacked the statutory powers to withhold his Certificate of Return.

He insists that he was validly elected to occupy the senatorial seat.

He, therefore, urged the court to declare that the electoral body acted in error when it refused to recognise him, even after the returning officer had declared him the winner.

In Mr Okoracha’s suit filed through his team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, INEC was cited as the sole defendant.

The judge, Taiwo Taiwo, has fixed April 5 to commence hearing on the matter, according to a report by Vanguard Newspaper.

Mr Taiwo granted the prayers of an application that was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial candidate, Jones Onyeriri and that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Osita Izunaso.

Messrs Onyeriri and Izunaso who were joined as interested parties in the matter and were subsequently listed as 2nd and 3rd defendants, respectively.

Under Duress

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Okorocha was declared the winner of the Imo West senatorial election. The presiding officer, Francis Ibeawuchi, however, said he was forced to make the declaration under duress.

It is based on that that the electoral commission removed Mr Okorocha’s name from the elected senators’ list and said it is reviewing the situation in the district.

Mr Okorocha, who was conspicuously absent at the INEC presentation of certificates of return to senators-elect on March 14, questioned INEC’s decision to remove his name from the list of elected senators.

He suggested that the commission might have been preparing a special event to issue him his certificate of return.

But INEC responded by saying there is no special ceremony prepared for anybody whose name did not appear on its list of successful candidates in the 2019 general elections.

Many Troubles

Apart from not being recognised as a senator-elect, Mr Okorocha’s party, APC, has also suspended him from the party.

The governor was suspended for anti-party activities after he supported the governorship candidate of another party, Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance.

Mr Nwosu, however, came second in the Imo governorship election behind Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party.

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