Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has described the decision to withhold his Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after being declared winner of the Imo West Senatorial election as unfortunate and unconstitutional.
The Imo Governor alleged that INEC is being used by those he said were fighting him ahead the 2023 Presidential election to stop him from going to the Senate, adding that it is only the Courts that have the powers to nullify any election after a winner has been declared and the Electoral umpire does not have the power.
“In my own case, 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, DSS 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 continued that, “let me tell every Nigerian that I fought no one and no one should fight me. If anyone fights me, he will be the loser at the end of it all. 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 by mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”
Okorocha who addressed thousands of youths, who came on protest over the conduct of the 2019 elections in the state, Wednesday, at the Government House, accused the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor Francis Ezeonu of wrecking democracy in the State “with the worrisome manner he has handled the Conduct of the 2019 elections in the State”.
He added further that “the REC has shown that he was brought to Imo after the 2015 election to return PDP to power in the state”.
The governor insisted that “the REC had acted illegally by ignoring the provision of the Constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate to have 25% in 2/3 of the Local Governments in the State by announcing the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha who only met the requirement in 9 Local Governments instead of 18 LGAs which is 2/3 of 27 LGAs winner”.
Okorocha also wondered why the REC should accept the outrageous figures from the three Local Governments Areas of Aboh Mbaise, Ahiazu Mbaise and Ezinihitte, where the PDP candidate got 64,219 votes from Aboh Mbaise alone, stating that the figures from the three LGAs constituted 50 percent of the total votes got by the PDP candidate in the State with 27 LGAs.
The governor maintained that Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA) won the election and has the required spread by having 25% in 21 out of the 27 LGAs in the State, adding that “the REC is working to set the state on fire”.
The governor also regretted that “the REC has become a willing tool in the hands of those fighting him, adding that for the REC to have ignored the Constitutional provision for the announcement of the winner of the governorship election only explains his desperation to announce the PDP Candidate winner”.
According to him, “I say so because going by the actual calculation, the person that won this election is Ugwumba Uche Nwosu. Uche Nwosu won the election landslide, if you remove the manipulation results from Mbaise, Uche Nwosu won with over 50,000 votes, if you cannot declare him a winner because you have someone already, then they should go for a rerun because you cannot change the Constitution if the Federal Republic of Nigeria because you want to favour a candidate.
“In the course of this manipulation, we all observed that the REC decided not to use the collation officers from Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), which he disbanded for reasons he gave that they have met with politicians. Again, he brought some people whom he introduced from the University of Agriculture Umudike. They arrived just a night before the election date and we thought we have gotten the collation officers. Again, those ones were disbanded on the same reason that they have met with politicians, I wonder how this is possible having arrived the state after midnight on the election eve.
“Now the REC went to his own University in Awka to bring in collation officers. We believed him not knowing that he brought people he has been training for a hatched job for some weeks now in Anambra State to come and carry out this injustice in Imo State.
“These men arrived with heavy security from Anambra and went straight to the various Local Governments. We never knew that these were relatives of the PDP candidate and from the same Local Government. These are relatives of the PDP Candidate who were already briefed of what to do. This explains the over voting witnessed in Mbaise. Out of the 270,000 votes that he scored, 50% of it or over 130,000 all came from just three local governments of Mbaise”, he stated.
He added “As far as I am concerned and we still maintain that REC has wrecked democracy in Imo State. Unfortunately for them, they were not smart enough to know that section 179 requires you to have a spread at least in 2/3 of the local governments before you can be declared a winner. They ended up with only 9 local governments instead of 18 required by law. The Returning Officer was advised by all the Senior Staff of INEC against declaring a winner without looking at the Constitution. This man in a hurry decided to announce the result against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
“This is wrong, in doing so, the Returning Officer didn’t even consider the results cancelled, total voters cancelled in the different Polling Booths, was enough to declare the election inconclusive as the difference between the PDP and AA would have called for a supplementary election. With the speed with which he announced the result tells you that the man is part of the game. This again is unacceptable to all of us” he said.
“It is obvious that this fight is targeted against me by some of those who have decided to fight me from Abuja. I am ready to take this fight as much as I can but don’t transfer this aggression you have against me to anybody associated with me, that I would not be acceptable. Allow the young men who won the elections to be so declared” he added.
The leader of the youths, Comrade Ezenna Okoro said, “We are here to express our dissatisfaction with the manner INEC Conducted its election in the State. Particularly, we youths from Okigwe Zone demand that Uche Nwosu be declared governor and Emenike be returned as Senator elect because he won the election based on results gotten from the booths and wards,
“INEC should not provoke us and we are giving them 24 hours to reverse the election of Imo North Senatorial Zone won by Emenike and as a matter of fact give us a date for the rerun between Uche Nwosu and the PDP Candidate having failed to make up the Constitutional requirement” he stated.