The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday, challenged the competence of the Federal High Court in Abuja to hear the case brought before it by the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
Okorocha took INEC to court over its refusal to issue him the certificate of return as winner of Imo West Senatorial District in the last general election.
Okorocha urged the court to direct INEC to issue him the certificate of return.
It would be recalled that INEC refused to give out the certificate of return to Okorocha over the allegation that his victory was said to have been announced under duress.
Arguing the case on Friday, INEC, represented by Mrs Wendy Kuku urged the court to dismiss the case as incompetent.
It also argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear it.
INEC said the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal and not the court had the right to hear the case.
INEC said the case in question was election-related and not within the jurisdiction of the court.
It therefore called on the court to strike out the case as it lacked merit and want of jurisdiction.
Okorcha’s lawyer, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), in his submission, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by his client.
According to him, no evidence was given that the returning officer was under duress as claimed.
“In this case, the returning officer alleged to have been put under duress is an agent of INEC and he has given no evidence whatsoever.
“INEC his principal has not raised any issue about duress. There is a conflict of evidence between the plaintiff and 2nd to 8th defendants.
“The law is that the court will rely on documentary evidence to resolve the issue.”
He argued that the only documentary evidence before the court was the certified true copy of the police report on the collation of election result.
Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter till May 20.