The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to a court ruling ordering the issuance of a certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha, the substantive winner of the Imo West Senatorial district election.
Justice Okon Abang of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the Certificate of Return to former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, who won the March 9th election for the Imo West Senatorial district. The judge argued that INEC lacks the constitutional power to withhold the Certificate of Return of a politician who has been declared winner of an election.
Reacting to the court judgement, National Commissioner of the Commission’s Committee on Voter Education and Information in INEC, Festus Okoye, said the commission will meet and do the needful.
His statement reads
”The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (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 Certificate of Return 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 23rdMay 2019 and the suit has been further adjourned to 26thJune 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 Certificate of Return.”