Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Embattled Imo state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has expressed disappointment over the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)to issue him with Certificate of Return after winning the Imo West senatorial district, describing it as insulting.
He, however, blamed his travail on what he described as conspiracy by some persons fighting his foreseen 2023 presidential ambition, appealing to INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, not to allow himself to be used, just as he urged him to quickly release his Certificate of Retune.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the Imo Governor’s Lodge, Okorocha said that although he was not considering any legal option for now, he was however, actually waiting for better reasons why the INEC struck out his name from the list of senators-elect.
” I was conspicuously absent at the certificates issuance ceremony. I was not there because INEC had removed my name from the list of senators after I was declared the winner by the zonal returning officer.
“So, I am actually waiting to hear why INEC struck out my name. 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.
“I am in the dark as to what was the reason I was not invited to collect my certificate of return. Maybe, INEC wants to organise a special programme when it will be handing over my certificate of return to me because clearly, I won and it was a peaceful election, the best you can ever think of.
“I am told from the grapevine that it was because of (the electoral officer said he was under) 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 under duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying that we did not win. They are not saying that 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 to understand that this is a game that is being played.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner 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 that people are beginning to fight a war of the future now when we are not even there. And I am 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 that, ‘do not give Rochas a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officers, then you can let him come in, so that he does not become anything and make sure that his candidate for governor does not win and then make sure that he is crippled politically before 2023.’
“That is what is happening and it is very childish. I do not see why somebody can be thinking that way and these are people that earned my respect and they are behaving in that manner. So, I will advise INEC to do the right thing, to release my certificate so that I can celebrate as others are celebrating,” he noted.