A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, June 7, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to former Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha.
The court, presided over by Justice Okon Abang ruled that the resolve to withhold Okorocha's certificate is not supported by the provisions of the law and as such is a “lawless decision.”
Justice Abang in his verdict further said that only INEC's returning officer has the constitutional backing to declare a winner, adding that any candidate proclaimed a will retain his or her victory until petitioners succeed in changing the decision through proceedings at the election tribunal, Daily Trust reports.
The court further ruled that Mr Okorocha had no business being the originator of the petition at the election tribunal.
Justice Abang nullified the submission by candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Jones Onyeriri and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Osita Izunaso that the matter ought to be taken to the election petitions tribunal on the grounds that it is a post-election matter which robbed the court of jurisdiction under sections 285, 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
However, the court said that the former governor, Okorocha, ought not to have filed a petition at the election tribunal.
Justice Abang said: “The tribunal has no jurisdiction to answer questions as to the validity of INEC’s action. Action of INEC not to issue certificate of return is unknown to the Constitution and the Electoral Act.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that INEC had insisted that it will not issue a certificate of return to Okorocha without a court order.
Festus Okoye, chairman of INEC information and voter education committee, said returning officer for Imo west senatorial district election declared Okorocha the winner under duress.
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