#We, The Southeast APC Young Progressive Forum (SEAYPF), have patiently waited and keenly watched the dramatic turnarounds cum actions of the independent National Electoral commission (INEC) in Imo West Senatorial Zone thus withholding the certificate of returns of the dully elected senator of the zone, His Excellency Owelle Anayo Rocha’s Okorocha.
#INEC as an institution guided by the constitution of the country has no reason whatsoever to contradict the letters of the constitution which it drives its strength from. Again INEC cannot be a judge in her own case,this is over ambitious.
#We are not in a Banana Republic and hence the activities of every individual or institution must be dully guided by the constitution of the country.
#It is shameful that INEC has allowed itself to be acting arrogantly,arrogating to itself, judicial powers which it does not possess.This is a huge mockery on our democracy which thrives on separation of powers.
#We wish to draw the attention of INEC to what the law clearly states in situations as this:
S. 68(1)(a)(b)and(c) provides that the “decision of the returning officer on ANY QUESTION arising from or relating to……. (a) unmarked ballot papers, (b) rejected ballot papers, and (c) declaration of scores of candidates, SHALL be FINAL subject to review by a Tribunal or Court in an election petition proceedings under this Act.
#The intention of the makers of our Electoral Act is clear as it relates to S. 68 of the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended.
#There is therefore no need to look or search for the legislative intention elsewhere.
#That a Returning officer claimed he was threatened to declare a result is obtuse. Unfortunately that’s immaterial the moment the Returning officer publicly pronounces a result. This argument can be anchored on the following cases of Sylvester V. Ohiakwu (2014) 5 NWLR (pt. 1401) p. 467. And
Tanko V. State (2009) 4 NWLR (pt. 1131) 430
#If the pronouncements of a Returning officer is final subject only to a judicial review as provided for under S. 68 of the Electoral act. Can INEC rely on S. 75(2) to withhold a certificate of return? Is S. 75(2) an exception to S. 68?
We are not persuaded by the argument that inherently the provisions of S. 75(2) is an exception to the rules in S.68
S. 75(2) provides as follows.
“Where the Commission refuses or neglects to issue a Certificate of Return, a certified true copy of the order of a court of competent jurisdiction shall, upside facto, be sufficient for the purposes of swearing in a candidate as winner by that Court.”
#One of the cardinal rules of interpretation of statutes is that where the provision of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the duty of the courts is simply to interpret the clear provision by giving the plain wordings their ordinary interpretation without more.
The provision of S. 68 gives the Returning officer the unfettered right to declare the scores of candidates in an election and once that is done his declaration is final subject only to a judicial review.
#Whereas there’s no where in S. 78 where any one including INEC is given any powers by the electoral act to withhold a certificate of return once a returning officer has pronounced the results.
#Having sited the above sacred constitution of our land , INEC must therefore not just have to release Gov Okorocha’s certificate of return immediately but also apologise to Nigerians for the huge embarrassment they have brought to our democracy.
#In the light of the Foregoing we SouthEast APC Young Progressive Forum of APC are pained,worried and can no longer keep condoling INEC if after fourteen days(14) starting from today fails to issue certificate of returns to the Senator-elect, we shall be left with no option than to massively mobilise progressive youths from across the five southeast states for mass action and takeover of INEC office.
This demand is total and INEC must work out her machineries in doing the right thing within discussed period issued above or face the consequences.
#This Press Release was Signed By :
Comrade Paschal Otimkpu, The Converner of the Group,
Comrade Buchi Zuma Obika From Abia State
Comrade Obi Trice Emeka From Anambra State,
Comrade Mazi Ejimofor Opara From Imo State
Comrade Sunday Udeh from Enugu State
Comrade Prosper Enukama From Ebonyi State.