The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will not present a certificate of return to Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha.
INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, said this, yesterday.
He said the electoral body took the decision because the returning officer for Imo West senatorial district election said he declared governor Okorocha as the winner “under duress.”
Although the governor insisted he won the election fairly, and that his victory was not declared under duress, his name was not on the list of those to be given a certificate of return, and despite his protest against the decision, he wasn’t given a certificate when winners got theirs last week.
Asked whether the commission investigated the claim and confirmed that it was true, Okoye said “Yes.”
“We’ve made it clear on why we didn’t present any certificate of return to him (Okorocha).
“If you look at our website, we said the declaration and return were made under duress and that we are not going to give any certificate to any person who procured a return under duress.”
Following the incident in Imo, INEC had warned politicians, especially those seeking to be elected into public offices that it would not condone any form of electoral malpractice.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who addressed a press conference, on March 7, said the electoral umpire would not reward “bad behaviour” by presenting a certificate of return to anyone harassing any of its staff.
On Thursday last week, INEC presented certificates of return to those returned elected in the February 23 elections.
In his reaction, governor Okorocha criticised the commission for withholding his certificate of return when he briefed reporters elsewhere, while the presentation ceremony held at the International Conference Centre, in Abuja.
The governor, who insisted that the election was one of the best conducted in the state, said INEC was planning a special event to present him with his certificate.