Gov. Okorocha vs INEC: What happened in court on Friday

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Governor Rochas Okorocha’s move to secure an interim injunction to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue him a Certificate of Return as the Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District suffered setback on Friday.

The Governor had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, which he filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, insisted that the electoral umpire lacked the statutory powers to withhold his Certificate of Return.

According to him, he was validly elected to occupy the senatorial seat.

Okorocha asked the court to declare that INEC acted in error when it refused to recognise him, even after the returning officer had declared him winner.

Okorocha, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, at the resumed proceeding on the matter on Friday, prayed the court to order INEC to in the interim, issue him Certificate of Return pending the determination of the suit.

However, though INEC was listed as the sole defendant in the suit, four candidates that participated in the senatorial poll, approached the court to be joined as interested parties.

The applicants, through their respective lawyers, said they were vehemently opposed to the issuance of Certificate of Return to Okorocha.

Those that secured leave of the court to file processes to counter Okorocha’s suit were Mr. Nwachukwu Clement of KOWA Party, Precious Nwadike of United Progressive Party, UPP, Dr. Uche Ibeh of Labour Party, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

The court had earlier joined Hon. Jones Onyeriri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Senator Osita Izunaso of APGA as interested parties in the case

All the parties that were added as 2nd to 7th Defendants in the matter, notified the court that they would filed preliminary objections to challenge the competence of Okorocha’s suit.

Likewise, INEC, through its lawyer, Mrs. Wendy Kuku, also queried the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit which it argued raised post-election issues.

Justice Taiwo .O. Taiwo adjourned the case till next Tuesday while directing all the parties to file and exchange their processes before the date.

The court held that it would no longer admit any interested party that failed to approach the court before the adjourned date.