All appears set for former governor of Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha to know the fate of his quest to get the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue him his Certificate of Return as duly elected Senator to represent Imo West Senatorial district.
The embattled governor has been embroiled in legal battle in a bid to get the electoral body to issue him his certificate of return since the 2019 general elections were concluded.
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court will on Friday decide the suit instituted by the former governor for an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue him a Certificate of Return as the Senator-elect for Imo West senatorial district.
Trial Justice Okon Abang okayed the matter for judgment after all the parties, including candidates of some political parties that participated in the election, adopted processes they filed for the suit to be dismissed.
The candidates, who through their lawyers, persuaded the court to join them as interested parties, said Okorocha’s suit lacked merit and deserved to be thrown out. They separately contended that the high court lacked the jurisdiction to order INEC to recognise Okorocha as the winner of the disputed senatorial seat.
Those the court joined in the suit are candidates of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Osita Izunaso; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Jones Onyereri; KOWA Party, Mr Nwachukwu Clement; United Progressive Party, UPP, Precious Nwadike, and Dr Uche Ibeh of Labour Party, LP.
Justice Abang had, on May 22, suspended proceedings on the matter following an appeal Izunaso filed with respect to the suit. Izunaso had gone before the appellate court to challenge the decision of the high court to assume jurisdiction in the case.
In his six grounds of appeal, Izunaso argued that by hearing and granting joinder applications that were brought by all the candidates that participated in the polls, the court exercised jurisdiction it does not have.
He argued that the court should not have taken any step until it had determined whether or not it has jurisdiction to entertain Okorocha’s suit.
Meanwhile, following a nod from the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abang subsequently heard all the parties and reserved the case for judgment.
Specifically, Okorocha had in his suit prayed the court to, among other reliefs, order INEC to issue him a Certificate of Return to enable him to proceed to the Senate.
It is part of Okorocha’s position that INEC lacked the statutory powers to withhold his Certificate of Return, insisting that he was validly elected to represent Imo West in the Senate. The plaintiff’s bid to secure interim order against INEC suffered setback owing to multiple applications by candidates that were part of the polls.
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