A coalition of South-East youth leaders has berated the Imo State All Progressives Congress Elders Forum for saying that Governor Rochas Okorocha’s certificate of return as a senator-elect should not be issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Okorocha was declared the winner of the Imo West Senatorial District by the INEC returning officer, Prof. Innocent Ibeabuchi, but trouble started when he (Ibeabuchi) told newsmen that he made the declaration under duress.
INEC has refused to issue Okorocha with a certificate of return following the claim by the returning officer.
The IMO APC Elders Forum in a statement by its Chairman, Dr Edmund Onyebuchi, and his deputy, Chief Bernard Anyanwu, last week said it was backing INEC on its decision to withhold Okorocha’s certificate of return.
But the coalition in a statement by its President, Goodluck Ibem, and the Secretary, Kanice Igwe, stated that the position of Imo APC leaders was undemocratic and could not override the Nigerian Constitution and the electoral laws of Nigeria.
The statement read, “We want to remind INEC that under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act, it lacks the powers to withhold the certificate of return in an election duly declared in line with the provisions of the electoral law or cancel an election that met the minimum requirement of the electoral law.
“INEC lacks the powers to arrogate to itself the investigative powers of the police and the judiciary.”
The group claimed that Imo APC Elders Forum was fighting Okorocha simply because he refused to hand over the Imo State funds meant for the development of the state to them.
“If the so-called Imo APC Elders Forum meant well for the people of Imo state, they could have known that this is not the time for political in-house fighting and disagreement; they could have known that this is the time to work as a team for Imo State and South-East geo-political zone. They could have known that the South-East needs to have more APC senators so that we can get what is rightfully ours from the President Buhari’s administration, especially now that we want to have principal officers in the National Assembly.”