The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to immediately issue the certificate of return to the immediate-past Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, recognizing him as the senator-elect for the Imo West Senatorial District.
Justice Okon Abang gave the verdict on the suit filed by Okorocha, challenging INEC’s decision to withhold his certificate of return, after he was lawfully declared winner of the February 23, 2019, National Assembly polls in the Imo West Senatorial District.
INEC had withheld his certificate of return on the grounds that its Returning Officer who presided over the election, made the declaration under duress.
The Judge however nullified INECs claims, describing it as lawless and arbitrary.
“Once the declaration is made under section 68(c) of the Electoral Act, INEC has become functus officio and INEC has no lawful authority to withhold the certificate of return for any reason whatsoever.
“Therefore the issue of duress is unknown to both the Electoral Act and the Constitution” Abang said.
The court ruled in favour of Okorocha, declaring him elected, pending the outcome of the ongoing proceedings of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.
He, therefore, ordered, “INEC shall forthwith publish and circulate the name of the plaintiff as the senator-elect representing Orlu Imo West Senatorial District