A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to issue Certificate of Return to former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the duly elected Senator representing (Orlu zone) Imo West Senatorial district of Imo State.
Justice Okon Abang on Friday ruled that the having been declared by the Returning Officer as the winner of the February 23 senatorial election, according to the constitution INEC has no reason not to issue him certificate of return.
Abang held that only the returning officer of INEC had the constitutional authority to declare a winner and that was done.
The Judge held that any person declared a winner by the returning officer remains a winner until petitioners succeed in upturning the declaration at the election tribunal.
The court further ruled that Mr Okorocha had no business being the originator of the petition at the election tribunal.
Justice Abang overruled the submission by candidates of the PDP, Jones Onyeriri and APGA, Osita Izunaso that the matter ought to be taken to the election petitions tribunal since it has become a post-election matter which robbed the court of jurisdiction under sections 285, 251(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
The judge held that petitions to the election tribunal under Section 133 of the Electoral Act should be made by the losers, and not the person declared winner whether under duress or not.
He held that any person declared a winner by the returning officer remains a winner until petitioners succeed in upturning the declaration at the election tribunal.
The court judge further ruled that Mr Okorocha had no business being the originator of the petition at the election tribunal.
Justice Abang, who ruled that the federal high court had exclusive jurisdiction to decide on the matter.
The judge further described INEC’s decision as “lawless and a complete nullity.”
Daily Tells Nigeria can recalled the INEC’s position on the issue was based on the rumour from the returning officer of Imo senatorial district that she declared the result under duress and that was why they could not issued certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha.