The now embattled immediate past Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Ethelbert Anayo Rochas Okorocha, who ruled Imo state for eight years and contested and allegedly won the senate seat for Imo West in the last general elections of March 9, 2019, and whose Certificate of Return has not been issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the ground that he was declared winner under duress, will know his fate tomorrow, Friday, June 7, 2019.
This is because a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on Tuesday fixed June 7 for judgment in the suit filed by former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a certificate of return.
The court presided over by Justice Okon Abang fixed the date for judgment after listening to the final arguments from counsels representing different parties in the suit.
Okorocha through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN, had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, prayed the court to, among others, order INEC to issue him a certificate of return as the senator-elect for Imo West senatorial district. He argued that INEC lacked the statutory powers to withhold the certificate of return, because he was validly elected to occupy the senatorial seat.
He equally wants the court to declare that INEC acted in error when it refused to recognize him as the winner of the senatorial election in Imo West, even after the Returning Officer had declared that he won the election, having scored highest number of valid votes.
Four candidates that participated in the senatorial election had in an application brought before the Federal High Court for joinder separately prayed the court to join them as interested parties in the suit, an application which the court subsequently granted.
Those that the court has so far considered their requests for and joined in the suit, include Nwachukwu Clement of KOWA Party, Precious Nwadike of United Progressive Party (UPP), Dr. Uche Ibeh of Labour Party.
The court had earlier joined Jones Onyeriri of the PDP and Senator Osita Izunaso of APGA as interested parties in the case.
The applicants were joined as 2nd to 7th Defendants in the matter.
They notified the court of their intention to file preliminary objections to challenging the competence of the suit.
The Defendants said they were opposed to the issuance of Certificate of Return to the plaintiff, arguing that, the election was declared by irregularities and manipulation of figures.
INEC had declined to issue Certificate of Return to Okorocha, who was the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after the returning officer alleged that he was forced to declare him winner under duress.
Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Francis Ibeawuchi, declared Okorocha as the winner of the election, having polled 97,762 votes ahead of his closest rival, Jones Onyeriri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had 68,117 votes. Ibeawuchi claimed that he announced Okorocha as the winner to save his life and that of his household, insisting however that the election ought to have been declared inconclusive.
However, INEC’s mood was that since the matter is subject of litigation, it can only act based on the pronouncement of the court, which is expected tomorrow.