The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, affirmed that it will not present a senatorial certificate of return to the Governor of Imo state Rochas Okorocha because the returning officer declared the governor winner “under duress”.
“We’ve made it clear on why we didn’t present any certificate of return to him,” INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, March 18, 2019.
“If you look at our website, we said that the declaration and return were made under duress and that we are not going to give any certificate to any person or any individual that procured a return under duress,” he added.
All elected Senators received their certificate of returns from INEC at the International Conference Centre on Thursday but Okorocha’s was excluded.
The governor, who contested the Imo West Senatorial District election on February 23, was declared the winner of the election.
His victory was cut short after the returning officer said he 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.
Okorocha said the withholding of his certificate of return by the INEC has the potential to stir tension in Imo State.
The governor, who addressed youths at the State House in Owerri, argued that the move to withhold his certificate of return based on an allegation without hearing his own side of the story was unjust.