Jubilation as Okorocha gets Certificate of Return.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha as the senator-elect for the Imo Senatorial District.
The commission had refused to present the certificate to the former governor following the Returning Officer’s report that he was forced to declare the result under duress.
Okorocha, thereafter, challenged the case in court, claiming that he won election.
Abang, in his ruling, said INEC’s action was lawless and arbitrary, adding that the commission, having declared Okorocha winner had no power to withhold the Certificate of Return due to him.
According to him, once the declaration was made under section 68(c) of the Electoral Act, INEC had become focus officio and INEC had no lawful authority to withhold the Certificate of Return for any reason whatsoever.
He said the issue of duress was unknown to both the Electoral Act and the Constitution, adding that the former governor remained elected subject to the outcome of the ongoing proceedings of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.
“INEC shall forthwith publish and circulate the name of the plaintiff as the senator-elect, representing Orlu Imo West Senatorial District. It is hereby ordered that INEC shall forthwith issue a certificate of return as the senator-elect representing senator-elect representing Orlu Imo West Senatorial District,” Abang ruled.
The judge awarded the amount of N200,000 payable by INEC to the plaintiff, and awarded N100,000 payable to the plaintiff by each of the other seven defendants to the plaintiff.
A total of N900,000 cost is to be paid by defendants to Okorocha