Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Embattled Imo State Governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate, Rochas Okorocha, has described as insulting, Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) refusal to issue him certificate of return “after winning in the election.”
He, however, blamed his travail on what he described as conspiracy by some persons fighting his foreseen 2023 presidential ambition. He charged INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, not to allow himself to be used, and urged him to quickly issue him his certificate of return.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the Imo Governors Lodge, Okorocha said though he is not considering any legal option for now, he is, however, waiting for better reasons why the INEC struck out his name from the list of senators-elect.
“I was conspicuously absent from the certificates issuance ceremony because INEC removed my name from the list of senators, after I had been declared the winner by the zonal returning officer.
“So, I’m actually waiting to hear why INEC struck my name out. I think, probably, INEC must be trying to do something special because I understand once results have been declared and returns made, then, you are bound to be issued a certificate of return; but, to have exempted me, I don’t understand.
“I’m in the dark as to what was the reason I was not invited to collect my certificate of return. Maybe, INEC would want to organise a special programme to hand over the certificate of return to me, because, clearly, I won and it was a peaceful election, the best you can ever think of.
“I’m told from the grapevine that it was because of duress. In other words, somebody must have coerced the returning officer to do what he was not supposed to do; but, here again, I do not understand what that means, because there was nothing of such.
“How can you put somebody on duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying we did not win. They are not saying the other man won. So, I do not understand why we should be the people forcing someone to do something wrong to claim victory.
“It is not true, but, I must let the world understand that this is a game that is being played. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State is playing a script and the script is so funny, it is so cruel and crude, actually, and they are executing it in a funny way.
“I understand people are beginning to fight a war of the future now, when we are not even yet there; and I’m surprised that INEC is being used as an instrument for those who find it politically difficult to achieve what they want to do,” he said.
Asked how he felt that he was not given the certificate of return like others, he said: “The idea is, do not give Okorocha a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officers, then, you can let him come in, so he does not become anything; and make sure his candidate for governor does not win, and then make sure he is crippled politically before 2023.”