The outgoing Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha on Wednesday said the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, lacks the power to withhold his Certificate of Return.
INEC will on Thursday 14 March present certificate of return to the winners of parliamentary election conducted on Saturday 23, February, 2019 but Okorocha’s name is missing from the list of federal lawmakers expected to collect their certificate tomorrow.
Okorocha described the decision of INEC to withhold his Certificate of Return after being declared winner of the Imo West Senatorial election as unfortunate and unconstitutional.
Okorocha who spoke at the state’s Government House in Owerri, the state capital, claimed that INEC was being used by those fighting to stop him from going to the Senate.
According to him, it is only the courts that have the powers to nullify any election after a winner has been declared, insisting that the electoral umpire does not have such power.
He said: “In my own case, my Certificate of Return has not been issued and I wonder why INEC will withhold my Certificate for a frivolous reason, without hearing from me. I am not a violent person and those who know me know that. This is why we have peace in Imo State.
The returning Officer could not have done that under duress under the watchful eyes of the Police, DSS and party agents. I am not unmindful of the facts that those who are fighting me from Abuja are anxious to see me removed as a Senator. I urge INEC to do the right thing immediately by releasing my Certificate.
“Let me tell every Nigerian that I fought no one and no one should fight me. If anyone fights me, he will be the loser at the end of it all. My INEC Certificate cannot be touched or seized, doing so is belittling democracy in Nigeria. It is only the Tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared. INEC cannot seize my Certificate by mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”