Court orders immediate issuance of certificate of return to Okorocha

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have refused to issue a certificate of return to former Imo State Governor, Rochas  Okorocha, for the Orlu Imo  West senatorial district.

In a judgment, Justice Okon Abang said, INEC does not have the inherent power to stop the issuance of the certificate of return to a winner after an election.

On whether the court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit, Abang held that though it was a post-election matter, it was an administrative decision of the commission which the tribunal cannot handle.

Thus, the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter, he said.

He said the questions formulated by the plaintiff did not contain issue of validity or non-qualification of a candidate to contest election or non-validly elected but an administrative decision of the electoral body – the refusal to issue a certificate of return – adding more so when the plaintiff had already been declared winner of the election.

The judge berated INEC for reverting to “self-help”, saying that it creates unnecessary problems in the polity.

Abang said once a certificate of return has been issued, it is only the tribunal that can withdraw such certificate.

…more details shortly

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