Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, was nowhere to be found at the presentation of Certificates of Return to newly elected federal lawmakers by Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, held on Thursday.
Controversy had trailed Okorocha’s election into the Senate to represent Imo West Senatorial District following the Returning Officer’s declaration that he declared the governor as winner under duress.
Consequently, INEC left out Okorocha’s name on its list of Senators-elect and yesterday didn’t issue him the certificate of return.
Speaking against the backdrop of his ostracisation, the governor told newsmen: “I am sure I was conspicuously absent from the certificates issuance ceremony. I was not there because INEC had removed my name from the list of senators having been declared the winner by the zonal returning officer. So, I am actually waiting to hear why INEC struck my name out. I think probably, INEC must be trying to do something special because I understand once results have been declared and returns made then you are bound to be issued a certificate of return but to have exempted me, I am in darkness as to what was the reason why I was not invited to collect my certificate of return.
“Maybe, INEC would want to organize a special programme for me to hand over this certificate of return to me because clearly, I won and it was a peaceful election, the best you can ever think of.
“I am told from the grapevine that it was because of duress. In other words, somebody must have coerced the returning officer to do what he was not supposed to do but here again, I do not understand what that means because there was nothing of such. How can you put somebody under duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying that we did not win. They are not saying that the other man won. So, I do not understand why we should be the people forcing someone to do something wrong to claim victory. It is not true but I must let the world understand that this is a game that is being played. The Resident Electoral Commissioner REC in Imo state is playing a script and the script is so funny, it is so cruel and crude actually and they are executing it in a funny way.
“I understand that people are beginning to fight a war of the future now when we are not even yet there and I am surprised that INEC is being used as an instrument for those who find it politically difficult to achieve what they want to do. The idea is that, do not give Rochas a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officers, then you can let him come in, so that he does not become anything and make sure that his candidate for governor does not win and then make sure that he is crippled politically before 2023. That is what is happening and it is very childish. I do not see why somebody can be thinking that way and these are people that earned my respect and they are behaving in that manner. So, I will advise INEC to do the right thing, to release my certificate so that I can celebrate as others are celebrating.”