The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally issued former Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha, a certificate of return as winner of Imo West Senatorial District election held Feb. 23.
INEC confirmed its position in a statement issued by Mr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC on Tuesday in Abuja.
Festus Okoye said the INEC decision to issue the certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha is in compliance with the court order of an Abuja Federal High Court that directed it to do so.
Festus Okoye said the issuance of the certificate to Rochas has also demonstrated its commitment to obeying court judgment, including those it might have reservations.
Festus revealed that the decision was reached on Tuesday after the commission met 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.
“INEC will also appeal against the said judgment” he said.
Okoye stated that in arriving at the decision, the commission also took into consideration, the orders issued by two High Courts in Owerri Judicial Division.
The orders were issued in suits No. HOW/ 596/2019 issued on May 23, 2019 and another dated the June 11, 2019 issued in suit No. HOW/663/2019 restraining the commission from issuing certificate of return in respect of the said senatorial district. He revealed.
The INEC commissioner further said that INEC noted that both were interim orders issued ex parte and not final orders of court.
Festus stated, “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.”
According to Festus, “Obviously, persons who seek elective offices can perceive in this judgment an irrelevance of due process and acting within the law.”
“It is not far-fetched that some of them can 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,” he said.
Okoye emphasized INEC’s 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.”