Okorocha Asks Court to Retrieve His Certificate of Return from INEC

Rochas Okorocha

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him with a certificate of return as the Senator- elect for Imo West senatorial district.

Okorocha was announced winner of the February 23 senatorial election as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Imo West senatorial district.

The Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Francis Ibeawuchi, declared Okorocha as the winner of the poll, having polled 97,762 votes ahead of his closest rival, Jones Onyereri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was said to have scored 68,117 votes.

INEC, however, declined to issue Okorocha with a certificate of return on the grounds that the results were announced by its official under duress.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, filed for Okorocha by his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), the plaintiff wants the court to grant an order compelling the INEC to issue him a certificate of return as the validly elected Senator for Imo West Senatorial District.

Okorocha, in the suit with INEC as sole defendant, argued that, having been declared winner of the election, INEC has no power to withhold his Certificate of Return. When the case came up yesterday, the court included Onyeriri and that the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the election, Senator Osita Izunaso as the second and third defendants in the suit.

While Nwafor Orizu appeared for Senator Izunaso, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) announced appearance for Onyeriri. Mrs. Wendy Kuku represented INEC.

In view of the inclusion of Onyeriri and Izunaso as parties to the suit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo directed the plaintiff to amend the originating processes to reflect the new parties.

Justice Taiwo equally directed the defendants to file and serve their processes within 10 days, while lawyer to the plaintiff file and serve his response within three days.

The judge then adjourned to April 5 for the hearing of all pending applications and the substantive suit.