Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, says the evil he feared in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been haunting him since he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Okorocha had defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), where he contested and won the 2011 governorship election.
The outgoing governor had been declared winner of the 2019 senatorial election in Imo west but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) withdrew his certificate of return.
The commission based its action on the complaint of Francis Ibeawuch, the returning officer for the election who said he declared Okorocha under duress.
Speaking at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, the governor said he remains a staunch member of the APC despite efforts to “frustrate him out of the party”.
He accused Adams Oshimhole, national chairman of the APC, and some other leaders of working with INEC to ensure he does not get his certificate of return as the “duly elected senator”.
“The evil I feared in the PDP has befallen me ten times in the APC. Last week, I wrote a letter to INEC for the first time myself, informing INEC of their wrongdoings and illegal actions taken by INEC to withhold my certificate on mere allegations of duress which was never founded, neither was there any committee set up to investigate the matter,”Okorocha said.
“So, INEC on their own believe the reports of their returning officer without investigating the authenticity of the investigation. So, there was no issue of fair hearing at all.
“What is important here is that INEC does not have the power to withhold the certificate of return having declared the result. I believe the INEC chairman is up to a game with the chairman of the APC who is being used to frustrate my coming to the senate and this is politically motivated.
“I’ve given enough time that INEC might correct itself and do the needful and issue me my certificate of return but to no avail.”
Okorocha alleged that Festus Okoye, a national commissioner of INEC, is being used as the “hatchet man” against him.
“Many things have happened so far and these should be of concern to everyone. INEC that made the submission to the tribunal have gone back requesting to withdraw it because the submission was defending the declaration by INEC,” he said.
“I wonder what they want to do with the certificate, if they don’t give it to me, who will they give it to? Maybe they will give it to Festus Okoye because he is from my Senatorial zone but what they are doing is presenting INEC as a lying organisation and that is dangerous for our democracy because, as it stands right now, the image of INEC is bastardised.
“What it means is that tomorrow somebody can withhold the certificate of anybody because you don’t like his face because you feel that he wants to politically challenge you in future.”