INEC lacks power to ‘withhold’ my certificate of return — Okorocha

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Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on Wednesday said the Independent National Electoral Commission lacked power to withhold his certificate of return as the senator-elect for the Imo West.

He described the electoral body’s decision to withhold his certificate as part of efforts aimed at making him irrelevant ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Okorocha said this at the Government House, Owerri on while addressing some youths who paid him a solidarity visit.

He said only a court had the power to nullify any election after a winner had been declared.

He denied the allegation that INEC’s returning officer declared him winner of the senatorial election under duress, describing the allegation as an insult.

Okorocha said, “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, the DSS (the Department of State Services) 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.”

The governor said he was not fighting anybody and those who were fighting him would fail.
He added, “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 because of a mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”

Okorocha also described the governorship and state house of assembly elections in the state as “a sham and a mockery of democracy.”

He said he had lost confidence in the nation’s democracy.

He accused INEC of complicity in the conduct of the polls.

He insisted that the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, won the governorship election and had the required spread of 25 per cent in 21 out of the 27 local governments in the state.

The governor said, “It is obvious that INEC in Imo State is not guaranteeing us free, fair and credible elections.

“Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance actually won the election, but INEC criminally disbanded electoral officers of the commission and introduced people from Abia College of Agriculture who arrived the state midnight.

“They brought people they had been training for weeks in Anambra before the elections.”

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