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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday declined to issue Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha a certificate of return presented to elected senators.
All 109 elected Senators received their certificate of returns from INEC at the International Conference Centre on Thursday.
The governor, who contested the Imo West Senatorial District election on February 23, was declared the winner of the election.
But INEC refused to acknowledge his victory because the returning officer was made to announce the result under duress.
“I have been held hostage here for days so I’m trying to ease off and take my life home back to my children and for the sake of that I am calling these results under duress,” INEC returning officer for the election in Imo State, Innocent Ibeabuchi had said before reading out the results.
However, Okorocha has said that the withholding of his certificate of return by the INEC has the potential to stir tension in Imo State.
Okorocha, who addressed youths at the State House in Owerri, argued that the move to withhold his certificate of return based on allegation without hearing his own side of the story was unjust.
He insisted that INEC’s action was an insult to his person and a mockery of Nigeria’s democracy. He alleged that he’s aware that INEC has colluded with some of his political enemies to deny him his mandate.
INEC’s head of voter education Festus Okoye had also said the commission will not award a certificate of return to candidates of elections where results were announced under duress.
“The commission has decided that we will not reward bad behaviour in the electoral process and we recorded bad behaviour in result collations in Imo West Senatorial District”, Okoye said on Channels TV’s Lunchtime Politics Programme.
According to him, “Investigation by the commission revealed that the returning officer for Imo West made a return under suspicious circumstances.”
“He was put under too much pressure. He was forced to make a declaration and a return and we made a determination that that particular return was not made out of the free will of the returning officer,” Okoye said.