Rochas Okorocha, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Imo West senatorial district in the recently held National Assembly election, said the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present him with his certificate of return “is belittling democracy in Nigeria.”
Okorocha, who is the Governor of Imo State, stated this when some youth paid him a solidarity visit at Government House, Owerri, the state capital, on Wednesday.
Governor Okorocha denied the allegations that the Returning Officer for the Imo West senatorial district election was forced to declare him as the winner under duress.
He noted that such a situation could not have occurred, especially as a repertoire of operatives of the various security agencies were at the collation centre.
He said: “My certificate of return has not been issued and 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. 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, the DSS (the Department of State Services) and party agents.
“I am not unmindful of the facts 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.”
According to the governor, INEC lacks the powers to withhold his certificate, adding that only a component court of law that can nullify his election victory.
He said: “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 because of a mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story,” Governor Okorocha said.