The National Vice-Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (South-South), Chief Hilliard Eta, has said his party is not responsible for the non-issuance of the Certificate of Return to the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Okorocha had, in his reaction to the development, said INEC’s action was an insult to his person and a mockery of Nigeria’s democracy, alleging that the electoral commission had colluded with some of his political enemies to deny him his mandate.
He was quoted to have said, “I think it is a script the Resident Electoral Commissioner is playing. My election was peaceful, free and fair. All that is happening now is a script carefully planned in Abuja.”
Reacting to Okorocha’s comment, Eta said, “The APC has nothing to do with Okorocha’s predicament with INEC over Certificate of Return. The party has got nothing to do with the INEC’s decision.”
The APC’s national vice-chairman also said the party would recommend the expulsion of Okorocha and others currently on suspension from the APC for alleged anti-party activities.
Eta alleged the suspended people were painting the party in a bad light.
“It is incorrect for him (Okorocha) to think that the party has a hand in the matter. It is characters like Okorocha that are giving us a bad name. Adam Oshiomhole has given a proper and distinguished leadership style. Unfortunately, characters like Okorocha, Osita Okechukwu and Usani (Usani) are giving us a bad name.
“We are going to recommend them for expulsion to the party’s National Executive Committee,” he added.
Okorocha, a senatorial candidate of the APC, was announced winner of the Imo West senatorial election held on February 23 by the Returning Officer, Prof Francis Ibeabuchi, in Orlu, after polling 97,762 votes to defeat his closest rival of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Jones Onyereri, who scored 68,117 votes.
But Ibeabuchi made a U-turn in Abuja when he said the results for the district and the declaration that followed were done when he felt he was no longer safe.
Following his revelation, INEC’s Head of Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the commission would not award a Certificate of Return to any candidate in an election where results were announced under duress.
The commission made good its position on Thursday when it failed to present Certificates of Return to Okorocha and 42 other announced ‘winners’ in the February 23 National Assembly elections.