The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has been omitted from the list of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, containing names of senators-elect qualified to receive their certificates of return on Thursday.
INEC, yesterday, published the list of elected federal lawmakers ahead of the presentation of the certificates of return on Thursday.
Okorocha, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was declared the senator-elect for Imo West senatorial district, having polled 97,762 votes to beat Jones Onyereri of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who garnered 63,117 followed by Sen. Osita Izunaso of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, with 30,923 votes.
But the collation officer of the district, Prof. Innocent Ibeawuchi, claimed that he declared the APC candidate the winner over PDP’s Onyereri under duress.
The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had during a meeting with the inter-agency consultative committee on election security in Abuja, said the commission would not issue certificates of return to any candidate declared winner of an election under duress.
On the commission’s website yesterday, only PDP’s Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East) was listed on the slot for Imo senators.
The space for Imo West had an INEC remark, “Declaration made under duress,” while Imo North’s slot had “Supplementary” remark. It, therefore, did not list anyone as the winner.
After the PDP and the APGA protested against the declaration of Okorocha as the winner of the senatorial poll, the returning officer for the election, Prof. Ibeawuchi, claimed that he was forced to declare Okorocha as the winner to save his life.
The returning officer said that he feared for his life and he was forced to announce the result of the poll, which he said was inconclusive, in favour of the governor.
“I was compelled to announce the result which was inconclusive. I’m a man of integrity and it is not true that the governor slapped me but I was held hostage by agents working for him. I was manhandled and I thank God that I came back alive,” he had said.
Last Thursday, INEC’s Chairman, Pro.f Mahmood Yakubu declared that the commission would not issue a certificate of return to anyone declared the winner of any election under duress.
“The commission will not tolerate the act of holding our officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress,” he had said.
Okorocha and his Ogun State counterpart, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, had been suspended by APC over anti-party activities as they backed gubernatorial candidates of other parties against those of the APC in the governorship election.