• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Okorocha: INEC worried of rewarding impunity

Rochas Okorocha

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed worry over what it described as, ‘rewarding impunity’ following the Federal High Court, Abuja ruling on Friday that mandated the Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to former Governor Rochas Okorocha as Senator-elect for Imo West.

INEC had refused to award Okorocha the certificate as the returning officer for the election Imo West senatorial district, Innocent Ibeabuchi, had declared him winner under duress.

But a Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang Friday directed INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.

Reacting to the judgement, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Publicity and Voter Education Committee said, “the Commission’s overriding consideration is the safety of its ad-hoc staff, Electoral Officers and Collation/Returning Officers.”

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Okoye stressed that the electoral body, “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”.

He however stated that, the Commission as a law abiding institution will comply with the Court’s directives and issue certificate of return to Okorocha after a meeting to be held soon.

“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 26th June 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”, Okoye said.