Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, on Wednesday said the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to confiscate his certificate of return was tantamount to denigration of democracy.
Speaking on Wednesday when some of his supporters marched to the government house to express their displeasure at conduct of the just-concluded elections, Okorocha averred that the commission has no right to withhold his certificate of return.
INEC had removed Okorocha’s name from the list of senators-elect who will be presented with certificates on Thursday, saying the governor was declared winner “under duress”.
Okorocha said it was unfair for INEC to base its decision not to issue him certificate of return on a petition without giving him the opportunity to share his own side of the story.
“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,” he said.
“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 fact 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.
“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.”
He also rejected the declaration of Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP winner of the election, with Uche Nwosu, candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), trailing him.
But Okorocha insisted that “going by the actual calculation, the person that won this election is Nwosu, his son-in-law.
“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,” he said.
“The REC has shown he was brought to Imo after the 2015 election to return PDP to power in the state. The REC had acted illegally by ignoring the provision of the Constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate to have 25 percent 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.”
He further sought answers to 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.
Okorocha noted that the outcome from the three LGAs constituted 50 percent of the total votes got by the PDP candidate in the state with 27 LGAs.
“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,” the governor said.
“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.”