The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Tuesday issues Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha as Senator-elect for Imo-West Senatorial District.
INEC had refused to issue Certificate of Return to Okorocha on allegations that Innocent Ibeabuchi, Returning Officer for Imo-West Senatorial election declared him winner under duress.
However, the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice O.E. Abang ordered the Commission to issue Certificate of Return to the Imo former Governor.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee who announced the Commission’s decision decision disclosed that, it will appeal the judgement.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, 11th June 2019 and considered 14 Memoranda involving Judgments and Orders in pre-election matters relating to the issuance of Certificates and or withdrawal of Certificates already issued in pre-election matters.
“Amongst the Memoranda considered is that concerning the judgment on the lmo West Senatorial District by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“The Commission decided to; comply with the Court judgment by issuing a Certificate of Return to the Plaintiff. kcthas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha in compliance with the judgmgnt and Orders of Hon. Justice O.E. Abang. Appeal against the said judgment.
“In arriving at this decision, the Commission also took into consideration the Orders issued by two High Courts in the Owerri Judicial Division in Suits No. HOW/ 596/2019 issued on the 23rd day of May 2019 and another dated the 11th June, 2019 issued in Suit No. HOW/663/2019 restraining the Commission from issuing Certificate of Return in respect of the said Senatorial District. It is noted that both are interim orders issued ExParte and not final orders of Court.
“In obeying the judgment, the Commission is demonstrating once again its longstanding commitment of complying with all orders of court, including those with which it may have reservations.
“However, the Commission must put on record its very profound concerns about the likely consequences of this judgment for our electoral process in particular and our democracy in general. Obviously, persons who seek elective offices could perceive in this judgment an irrelevance of due process and acting within the law. It is not farfetched that some of them could in future disregard laid down processes, including voting, arm themselves and mobilize thugs and compel Returning Officers to declare them elected, irrespective of the true outcomes of elections. Moreover, it may become increasingly difficult for the Commission to convince its officials that they are safe to carry out their legitimate functions without fear of being harassed, held to ransom or visited with bodily harm.
“The Commission would like to seize this opportunity to restate its commitment to due process and obedience to the Rule of Law in its dealings with all parties and candidates. We assure Nigerians that we will not waiver in our determination to enthrone a credible electoral process in Nigeria”, he stated.
James Kwen, Abuja