Nigeria’s ruling party on Wednesday reacted for the first time to the controversy trailing the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Rochas Okorocha Senator-elect.
The party said it cannot intervene on behalf of Mr Okorocha, because the outgoing Imo governor is still serving a suspension.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lanre Issa-Onilu, disclosed this at an interactive session with reporters in Abuja. He said the governor has also not informed the party of the problem with the electoral management body probably because he is aware of his suspension.
“The party cannot take any action because he is in the first instance on suspension and until that is vacated, we cannot step in on his behalf,” Mr Issa-Onilu said.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Okorocha was declared the winner of the Imo West senatorial election. The presiding officer, Innocent 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 has, however, questioned INEC’s decision to remove his name from the list of elected senators.
Last Wednesday, he filed a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja to compel the electoral commission to issue him with a Certificate of Return as the senator-elect for Imo West.
Apart from not being recognised as a senator-elect, Mr Okorocha’s party, APC, suspended him from the party two days after President Muhammadu Buhari was announced the winner of the February 23 Presidential polls.
The governor was suspended for anti-party activities after he supported the governorship candidate of another party, Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance.
Mr Nwosu eventually lost the governorship election to Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party.