Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the power to deny him the mandate as the elected senator representing Imo West Senatorial District.
The embattled governor, who is also the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, blamed his predicament on the unfolding tussle for the offices of principal officers of the incoming National Assembly as well as the 2023 presidency.
Okorocha, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, alleged that some persons within the APC were out to cripple him politically before 2023, but however vowed that nobody can thwart his political ambition.
He traced his travails in APC, including his recent suspension to an orchestrated plot to make him politically irrelevant beginning from the party primaries and now the just-concluded general elections.
“I understand that people are beginning to fight a war of the future now when we are not even yet there and I am surprised that INEC is being used as an instrument for those who find it politically difficult to achieve what they want to do.
“The idea is that, do not give Rochas a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officer, then you can let him come in, so that he does not become anything and make sure that his candidate for governor does not win and then make sure that he is crippled politically before 2023. That is what is happening and it is very childish,” he said.
Also speaking on what must have led to his predicament, Okorocha said he was at a loss as to why INEC did not include him among those issued with certificate of return or deem it fit to give reasons for its action.
“I am told from the grapevine that it was because of duress. In other words, somebody must have coerced the returning officer to do what he was not supposed to do but here again, I do not understand what that means because there was nothing of such. How can you put somebody on duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying that we did not win. They are not saying that the other man won.
“So, I do not understand why we should be the people forcing someone to do something wrong to claim victory. It is not true but I must let the world understand that this is a game that is being played. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State is playing a script and the script is so funny, it is so cruel and crude actually and they are executing it in a funny way,” he alleged.
Okorocha who expressed disgust at the turn of events, said that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has an urgent task of doing something to reverse most of the anomalies witnessed during the elections in Imo State.
He said that failure to right the wrongs will have very negative impact on the image of the country even as he described his absence at the presentation of certificate of return and the circumstances around it as funny.
“I was conspicuously absent from the certificates issuance ceremony. I was not there because INEC has removed my name from the list of senators having been declared the winner by the zonal returning officer.
“So, I am actually waiting to hear why INEC struck my name out. I think probably, INEC must be trying to do something special because I understand once results have been declared and returns made then you are bound to be issued a certificate of return but to have exempted me, I am in darkness as to what was the reason why I was not invited to collect my certificate of return.
“Maybe, INEC would want to organize a special programme for me to hand over this certificate of return to me because clearly, I won and it was a peaceful election, the best you can ever think of,” he added.
While raising issues with the outcome of the Imo state governorship election in which the candidate of the PDP, Emeka Ihedioha was declared the winner, Okorocha said that the results from three local governments in Mbaise area were inflated to conjure victory for PDP.
He said that from his own account, the governorship election was clearly won by the candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu.
“They went to the three local government areas in Mbaise to raise about 133,000 votes and the PDP candidate has a total of 270,000 votes, so 50% of his votes came from three local government areas. They made no use of results from the polling units nor the collation centres and this same returning officer accepted it and announced his result,” he alleged.
Okorocha faulted the emergence of the PDP’s candidate as winner of the Imo governorship, saying that he did not meet the constitutionally required spread of 18 local government areas in the state.
He also contested the declaration of the governorship result, saying that INEC took no cognizance of the number of cancelled votes which is more than the difference between the two leading candidates.