OKOROCHA: INEC’s Refusal to Issue Certificate of Return, A Joke Taken Too Far – P. I Azubuike
The decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to issue Certificate of Return to some elected members of the National Assembly amongst others include Rochas Okorocha, is not just sad, but a huge set back to our democracy and electoral process.
Worse still, the reason adduced by INEC is as unfortunate as the process itself. According to INEC, the reason why Okorocha (and others) were not given Certificate of Return and declared elected was because the Returning Officer declared them winners of the election under duress.
This reason given by INEC, as serious as it may appear is unknown to our corpus juris and as such untenable in our constitutional democracy. It is settled law that an election is concluded once a winner has been announced by the authorized officer of INEC and once that is done, the only remedy open to an aggreived party is to challenge the outcome of the process in court. See Faleke v. INEC (2017) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1543) 16 .
It follows therefore that, there is no basis whether in law, constitutionality or morality for INEC to refuse issuing Certificate of Return to persons that have been announced winners of an election (irrespective of whether the announcement was made by hook or croock, both means being illegal).
The only option open to an aggrieved party is to challenge the result of the election at the appropriate judicial fora (Election Petition Tribunal). By refusing to issue Certificate of Return to candidates already announced as winners, INEC is not only playing the role of the court, but they are also interfering with the outcome of the litigation process.
Not until the Electoral Act is amended to address this novo issues and challenges, INEC should issue the Certificate of Return to Okorocha and tender an apology to him.
In the words of William James
“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
Let the court be and always remain the place where such evidence is proven.
This joke is too expensive and as a country, we are not ready for same.
My humble submission.
P. I Azubuike Snr Esq
Distinguished Member of Degema Branch of the NBA, writes from Port Harcourt and divides his research interest in International Law with a bias for afro centric views, Constitutional Law, Oil and Gas Law and Arbitration.
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