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Imo West Senatorial election: CSO urges INEC to respect people’s will

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Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), a CSO, has told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the people’s will in the case of Imo West Senatorial election held on Feb. 23.

The Executive Director of CASER, Mr Frank Tietie, who is also a human rights lawyer, said this at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Imo West Senatorial election became controversial when INEC refused to issue a Certificate of Return to Rochas Okorocha, the outgoing Imo State Governor, who had been declared winner of the election.

INEC said it was withholding the certificate based on the report of the returning officer for the election that Okorocha was declared winner under duress.

According to Tietie, the sacred will and mandate of the people of Imo West Senatorial District displayed during the election was an expression of the people’s right to democracy, which should be respected and not subjected to political passion.

“The sacred will and mandate of the people of Imo West Senatorial District election being an expression of the human right to democracy, must be respected and not be subjected to the political whimsicalities of persons who do not respect the sanctity of the independence and impartiality of a state institution like INEC.

“It is our expectation that INEC will reverse itself and save the unnecessary and needless grounds of litigation and allow the law to prevail by respecting the will and mandate of the people of Imo West Senatorial District.

“And, forthwith issue to Rochas Okorocha his certificate of return as the winner of the National Assembly election for Imo West senatorial District,’’ Tietie stressed.

The executive director said that the CSO had resolved, as a group, to do everything legally permissible under law to stage a mass action to ensure that INEC remained independent, impartial, and law abiding.

Tietie said that CASER would not allow the rights of the senator-elect to be hijacked and abused by corrupt and unscrupulous persons .

According to him, an election cannot be questioned on flimsy grounds, based on casual opinions of a returning officer or a national commissioner of INEC.

Tietie, therefore, urged the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to study the provisions of Section 138 of the Electoral Act, saying that he did not believe that Okorocha was guilty of any of the provisions of the act.

He further called on INEC to do the needful and issue the senator-elect with a certificate of return as winner of the Imo West Senatorial District election.

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