Aggrieved protesters have given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), up till next Monday to release the Certificate of Return of Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha or they will mobilise one million Nigerians to occupy the headquarters of the Commission indefinitely.
The protesters issued the ultimatum to INEC yesterday when they besieged the national headquarters of INEC to demand the immediate release of the Okorocha’s certificate of return as senator-elect.
Okorocha contested the Imo North senatorial election and was declared winner by the Returning Officer who then turned around to say he announced the result under duress.
Based on the allegation by the Returning Officer, INEC decided to hold on to the Certificate, stressing that INEC only issued certificate to people who genuinely won elections.
However, the group in a protest letter signed by Olisaemeka Onyeka, APC South East Zonal Youth Leader and five other youth leaders said the INEC had no right to hold on to the certificate.
They insisted that the result was announced in the presence of security agencies, other party officials as well as the media, adding that there was no sign of intimidation or duress.
“We are writing this letter to protest against the decision of INEC to withhold the Certificate of Return of the Executive Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, winner of the Imo North Senatorial District.
“At the concluded National Assembly, the returning officer had declared Govornor Okorocha winner of Imo North Senatorial District after the election on February 23rd and a supplementary election on March 9th.
“It, however, came as a surprise when same commission alleged that the announcement was made under duress.
“Specifically, the returning officer announced Governor Okorocha winner of the National Assembly election in the presence of all security agencies, print and traditional media and INEC’S spokesperson who was also at the venue.
“We again remind the INEC that once declaration was made by an election returning officer, the commission has no right to withhold the winner’s Certificate of Return,” the group said.
They urged the Commission to reconsider its decision as the continuous withholding of His Excellency Governor Okorocha’s Certificate of Return has the capacity to fuel tension in the state.
Reacting to the protest, Mr. Kelechi Madumene, an Assistant Director in the Commission, while commending the protesters for a ‘peaceful’ protest, informed them that the matter was already in court.
He said that it would amount to subjudice to as much as comment on the matter that was already before the court of law.
He, however, assured them that the Commission will do the right thing within the dictates of the law. (NAN)