Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that it would appeal the Federal High Court ruling which ordered the commission to issue certificate of return to the Imo West senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha.
Although the commission issued the immediate past governor of Imo state certificate of return, it raised concerns about the possible resort by desperate partisans to the Machiavellian principle of the end justifying the means.
In the statement issued by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, after several hours deliberation, the commission while announcing that it would appeal the court judgement, argued that it could pose dire consequences for Nigeria’s democracy if left unchallenged.
The commission equally expressed fears that in future, politicians could employ unconventional tactics to get returning officers to return them elected with the hope that such declarations are cast in stone.
“The commission must put on record its very profound concerns about the likely consequences of this judgement for our electoral process in particular and our democracy in general. Obviously, persons who seek elective offices could perceive in this judgement an irrelevance of due process and acting within the law.
“It is not farfetched that some of them could in future disregard laid down processes, including voting, arming themselves and mobilising thugs and compelling returning officers to declare them elected, irrespective of the true outcomes of elections.
“Moreover, it may become increasingly difficult for the commission to convince its officials that they are safe to carry out their legitimate functions without fear of being harassed, held to ransom or visited with bodily harm”, the commission lamented.
“INEC will appeal against the said judgement. In arriving at this decision, the commission also took into consideration the orders issued by two High Courts in the Owerri Judicial Division in Suits No. HOW/S96/2019 issued on the 23rd May 2019 and another dated the 11th June, 2019 issued in Suit No HOW/663/2019 restraining the Commission from issuing Certificate of Return in respect of the said Senatorial District.
“It is noted that both are interim orders issued ex parte and not final orders of court. In obeying the judgement, the commission is demonstrating once again its long-standing commitment of complying with all orders of court, including those with which it may have reservations.
“However, the commission would like to seize this opportunity to restate its commitment to due process and obedience to the Rule of Law in its dealings with all parties and candidates. We assure Nigerians that we will not waiver in our determination to enthrone a credible electoral process in Nigeria”, the statement read further.