By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
The Imo state monarchs yesterday backed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, when the commission said it would be appealing the Federal High court judgment, in Abuja, that ordered Senator Rochas Okorocha be issued with the certificate of return for Imo west senatorial district.
The monarchs led by Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, in Owerri, spoke through his Media consultant Kennedy Eweama, adding that as Royal fathers that their duty was to speak out the truth and at the same time condemn evil in the land.
The thinking of the Imo Royal fathers was that INEC’s move will restore the image of the commission is an unbiased umpire in the election.
According to them, “Traditional Rulers in Igboland under the auspices of Igbo Traditional Rulers Forum (ITRF), have okayed the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to pursue to a logical conclusion, its appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which acquitted former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, of allegations of obtaining his senatorial election victory through coercion.
“The Returning Officer for Imo West senatorial election, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi had alleged that Okorocha’s thugs forced him at gunpoint, to declare him the winner.
“Based on that, INEC, therefore, withheld Okorocha’s Certificate of Return but Justice Abang Okon of the lower court overruled INEC and ordered that Okorocha be issued with CoR as winner of the election.
“We, the monarchs commended INEC’s decision to go ahead with Okorocha’s prosecution, as it will restore its integrity as an unbiased umpire, help in safeguarding the nation’s electoral process and serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to emulate Okorocha’s alleged unlawful and reprehensible conduct during the elections.”
It was Ilomunanya’s view that “The former governor’s alleged misdemeanor was a dent on the federal government’s genuine and concerted efforts at enthroning a transparent, credible, free and fair electoral process.
“Okorocha’s alleged insensitive action was capable of undermining the integrity of elections in Nigeria before the international community, such misbehavior credited to a former governor is very unfortunate and embarrassing.
“The 2019 general elections were commendable because of its relative peaceful and transparent nature, INEC lived up to expectations despite the herculean challenges it faced.
“As royal fathers, we have a duty to speak out when evil beckons. Evil only thrives where noblemen keep silent. Who knows who will be the next victim? He may not even be alive to speak out as Prof Ibeawuchi did.”