Except by a miracle, former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha will not be part of the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly today.
He will not be among those to elect the leadership of the Senate to which he won election early this year but has not been given the Certificate of Return.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it will meet today to look at the court rulings on the former governor’s Certificate of Return.
The ninth National Assembly will be inaugurated today and the election of leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives is also expected to hold with the maiden plenary.
In a ruling, Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, directed INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Okorocha as the senator-elect for Imo West.
The commission in its response assured that as a law abiding institution it will be meeting to do the needful.
The commission, which reacted to the judgment through a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, said: “In view of the import and directives of the judgment, the commission will meet as soon as practicable to do the needful. As a law-abiding institution, the commission will continue to obey judgments of all courts of competent jurisdiction.”
It was not specific on the actual date it would meeting to consider the judgment, but The Nation exclusively gathered that a management meeting of the commission has been slated for today where the matter will be examined alongside other issues.
Confirming the development to our correspondent in Abuja, the nation’s capital, Okoye noted that at the time the judgment came in on Friday, most of the national commissioners were outside the city on assignment.
The meeting, he stressed, will consider reports from the state level reviews of this year’s general elections.
INEC had warned that should electoral impunity be allowed to flourish, any individual can harass, intimidate and put its officers under duress, procure a favourable declaration and be rewarded with a Certificate of Return.
In withholding Okorocha’s Certificate of Returns, INEC had argued that it only issued it to people who genuinely won elections.
Okoye said: “Issuance of Certificate of Return is a statutory function of the INEC. It is only issued to those who do elections and must be done through the free will of a Returning Officer.
“In the case of Imo West Senatorial District, where Okorocha contested, the Otu-Opi Federal Constituency in Benue, Agayi State Constituency and another in Akwa Ibom, what INEC is saying is that you can’t engage in bad electoral behaviour and expect INEC to reward you with a certificate.
“Our certificate is only for those who won freely.”
Okoye said the commission has the right not to issue a certificate to such a person as it would amount to abnormality.
He said INEC’s action was not targeted at the voters but to address the excesses of those who wanted to use unconventional means to win elections.
“Once we have such a case, INEC will not issue a certificate but ensure that the right thing is done,” Okoye said.