Rochas Okorocha, outgoing Governor of Imo State, says his certificate of election as a senator cannot be seized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Speaking on Wednesday when a crowd of youth supporters marched to the Government House to protest the conduct of the just-concluded elections, Okorocha accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) posted to the state of working against him.
According to Okorocha, anyone who decides to go against him would lose.
INEC had removed Okorocha's name from the list of senators-elect who will be presented certificates on Thursday March 14, 2019. According to the commission, Okorocha was declared winner of the election "under duress".
However, the Governor has kicked against the move, saying: "In my own case, 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, DSS and party agents. I am not unmindful of the fact 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.
"Let me tell every Nigerian that I fought no one and no one should fight me. If anyone fights me, he will be the loser at the end of it all. 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 by mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story."
He also rejected the result of the governorship election in the state, stating that Emeka Ihedioha, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Imo Governor-elect, didn't have the required number of votes to emerge winner.
He continued: "The REC had acted illegally by ignoring the provision of the Constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate to have 25 per cent in two-thirds of the local governments in the state by announcing the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha who only met the requirement in 9 Local Governments instead of 18 LGAs, which is two-thirds of 27 LGAs winner."
Noting that figures from Aboh Mbaise, Ahiazu Mbaise and Ezinihitte, where the PDP candidate got 64,219 votes from Aboh Mbaise alone, were "outrageous", he stressed that Uche Nwosu, governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA) won the election and had the required spread by securing 25 percent of the votes in 21 out of the 27 LGAs in the state.
"For the REC to have ignored the Constitutional provision for the announcement of the winner of the governorship election only explains his desperation to announce the PDP candidate winner.
“I say so because going by the actual calculation, the person that won this election is Ugwumba Uche Nwosu. Uche Nwosu won the election in a landslide. If you remove the manipulated results from Mbaise, Uche Nwosu won with over 50,000 votes. If you cannot declare him a winner because you have someone already, then they should go for a rerun because you cannot change the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because you want to favour a candidate.
“In the course of this manipulation, we all observed that the REC decided not to use the collation officers from Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), which he disbanded for reasons he gave that they have met with politicians. Again, he brought some people whom he introduced from the University of Agriculture, Umudike. They arrived just a night before the election date and we thought we have gotten the collation officers. Again, those ones were disbanded for the same reason that they have met with politicians. I wonder how this is possible having arrived the state after midnight on the eve of election day.
“Now the REC went to his own university in Awka to bring in collation officers. We believed him, not knowing that he brought people he has been training for a hatched job for some weeks now in Anambra State to come and carry out this injustice in Imo State.
“These men arrived with heavy security from Anambra and went straight to the various Local Governments. We never knew that these were relatives of the PDP candidate and from the same Local Government. These are relatives of the PDP candidate, who were already briefed on what to do. This explains the over voting witnessed in Mbaise. Out of the 270,000 votes that he scored, 50 per cent of it or over 130,000 all came from just three local governments of Mbaise.
As far as I am concerned, we still maintain that REC has wrecked democracy in Imo State. Unfortunately for them, they were not smart enough to know that Section 179 requires you to have a spread at least in two-third of the local governments before you can be declared a winner. They ended up with only nine local governments instead of 18 required by law. The Returning Officer was advised by all the senior staff of INEC against declaring a winner without looking at the Constitution. This man in a hurry decided to announce the result against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is wrong. In doing so, the Returning Officer didn’t even consider the results cancelled. Total votes cancelled in the different polling booths was enough to declare the election inconclusive as the difference between the PDP and AA would have called for a supplementary election. The speed with which he announced the result tells you that the man is part of the game. This again is unacceptable to all of us.
“It is obvious that this fight is targeted against me by some of those who have decided to fight me from Abuja. I am ready to take this fight as much as I can, but don’t transfer this aggression you have against me to anybody associated with me; that would not be acceptable. Allow the young man who won the election to be so declared."
Comrade Ezenna Okoro, who led the youth, expressed dissatisfaction with the election outcome and issued an ultimatum to the commission to address the issue.
“INEC should not provoke us and we are giving them 24 hours to reverse the election of Imo North Senatorial Zone won by Emenike, and as a matter of fact give us a date for the rerun between Uche Nwosu and the PDP candidate, having failed to make up the Constitutional requirement," he stated.