Barely hours to the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is still withholding ex-Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Senatorial certificate of return despite a federal high court judgment ordering the commission to do so.
Without a certificate of return, Mr Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo State, cannot be sworn in or recognised as a senator. Every elected lawmaker is expected to present the document during Tuesday’s inauguration.
Mr Okorocha was declared the winner of the February 23 senatorial election of Imo West zone but the returning officer, Innocent Ibeabuchi, said he was forced to make the declaration.
Mr Okorocha approached the High Court in Abuja, seeking an order compelling INEC to issue him a certificate of return.
In response, the commission refused to issue him one, saying it was reviewing the situation in Imo West but refused to act.
The former governor also accused his estranged party, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and INEC of plotting to frustrate his senatorial ambition.
PREMIUM TIMES on Friday reported how Justice Okon Abang upturned the commission’s decision not to acknowledge Mr Okorocha’s victory. The judge described INEC’s decision as “lawlessness and a complete nullity.”
Mr Abang said INEC had no power to act as it did. He said such an action implied the creation of new laws by INEC.
But on Monday, Mr Okorocha said he was yet to be issued with the document.
According to Punch Newspaper, the former governor in a statement by his aide, Sam Onwumedo, described as fake, pictures trending online where Mr Okorocha was holding a certificate of return.
“When the former governor receives his certificate of return, we will duly inform the general public,” the statement read in part.