INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega
- S’East APC warns INEC, military against manipulating rescheduled Imo guber poll
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia and Amby Uneze in Owerriâ€¨
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed April 25 for the re-run of the governorship and state assembly elections in Imo and Abia States.
The commission had declared the elections inconclusive due to irregularities observed in the two states.
In the 23 local government areas of Imo State, valid votes cancelled were about 145,000 much higher than the margin of winning which was put at 79,000 votes.
Addressing journalists at the INEC headquarters, Owerri, on Wednessday, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabriel Adah, said the result of the governorship election was not clear enough to have an outright winner.
He said the inconclusiveness was as a result of non-functionality of card readers, violence and snatching of ballot boxes, adding that “it would be wrong under such situation if a winner was declared.”
According to him, election would therefore take place in 250 polling booths across the 23 local government areas of the state on Saturday, April 25.
In the same vein, he said the state House of Assembly was also inconclusive in six state constituencies namely: Ikeduru, Isiala Mbano, Oru East, Oguta, Isu and Owerri West.
He said for the results of the assembly election released so far, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had won four while the All Progressives Congress, APC won 16 state constituencies, adding that a re-run would take place in seven local government areas on the same date with the governorship election.
Adah explained that there would be a fresh accreditation of voters, adding that the commission would use card reader to do the verification, “but if the card reader fails, you must go through incident form as any other manual accreditation will not be accepted.”
Explaining further, the REC disclosed that the commission had begun compilation of electoral officers allegedly involved in the irregularities that marred the election last Saturday with a view to prosecuting those found culpable.
In Abia State, the INEC spokesman, Edwin Enabor, said the polls would be conducted in some polling units across nine local government areas with a combined registered voters of 179, 224.
The affected local government areas include Aba North, Aba South, isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Umuahia South, Bende, Ohafia, Arochukwu and Osisioma.
Meanwhile, as the wait for the conclusion of governorship election continues, Governor Theodore Orji yesterday called on the people “to be patient and law abiding at all times and especially in the days ahead.”
He made the call in a radio broadcast following the inconclusive gubernatorial poll and the attendant tension generated in the state as INEC prepares to conduct the supplementary poll on April 25.
Orji noted that the people of the state were agonising over their “dashed expectations of an early result” which “has heightened tension in the state and raised emotions,” adding that the situation should not be a reason for anybody to engage in violence.
“Our youths are advised not to make themselves available as tools in the hands of desperate politicians to create chaos and mayhem in the state,” he said, adding that political gladiators on their part, “should turn off the garb of desperation in their quest for political office as power can only come from God through the people.”
The governor advised INEC to be guided by the established guidelines and electoral laws of the country “which must be strictly applied in the interest of all participants in elections and the citizenry.
He warned that “a deviation from these guidelines or an attempt to subvert the will of the people as expressed in their votes may lead to unpleasant consequences.
“INEC must remain alive to its constitutional responsibility of conducting credible elections and must at all times be conscious of the fact that citizens attach so much importance to their rights to choose their leaders which should not be denied in any form,” he said.
However, Abia stakeholders have called on INEC to declare the results of the election “with immediate effect,” saying they were compelled to make the “strong demand” on the commission given that the candidate of the PDP, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, clearly won the election.
Addressing journalists after the stakeholders meeting in Aba yesterday during which they deliberated on the inconclusive governorship election, the spokesman of the stakeholders, Emmanuel Adaelu, said the stalemated election was a ploy to “to rob Ikpeazu of his “already won victory.”
He vowed that the stakeholders would not sit back and fold their hands and watch the mandate of the electorate stolen in broad day light, adding that it was a huge surprise that the state returning officer declared the governorship poll inconclusive even when results had been collated and declared right from polling units and local government levels.
Another elder statesman, Chief Dan Nwankwo, described the inconclusive election as “the greatest travesty of justice he has seen in life as no violence was recorded anywhere in the state in an election adjudged to be free and fair and therefore duly signed by all party agents.”
Meanwhile, South-east chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned security agencies, especially the military, and INEC to ensure that due process is followed in the conduct of the rescheduled governorship and state assembly elections in some polling units in Imo State.
The opposition party took the same position as it affects the rescheduled House of Assembly elections in Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi States, insisting that any attempt to undermine the collective will of the people would be stoutly resisted.
The chairmen in the five states of the zone, including Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra and Imo State, who addressed journalists shortly after an emergency meeting in Enugu warned that they would not fold their arms and allow a repeat of manipulation of the peoples’ will as witnessed in the zone during the presidential and National Assembly, as well as governorship and state assembly elections.
Present at the meeting were the: Enugu Chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye; Anambra Chairman, Emeka Ibe; Ebonyi Chairman, Hon. Ben Nwobasi and Abia Chairman, Chief Donatus Nwampka; while Imo Chairman, Dr. Hilary Ekeh was excused because of the stalemate in Imo guber election.
The spokesperson of the chairmen and Enugu APC chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye stated that the party was watching closely the unfolding events in Imo State where the governorship election was declared inconclusive.
“We condemn wide spread rigging in South-east, the manufactured results is not a reflection of the wishes of the people of Igboland. They are part of progressives, they are part of the governing party in waiting.
“We are warning INEC and all the security officials especially the army, the military and the police, that whatever crime they choose to commit, you are professionals, after we become the governing party, you are going to be prosecuted, whatever crime you commit, you are going to be prosecuted.
“Those who are taking bribes and running rampage, remember that government of PDP will be history after May 29, 2015, you are going to face justice. You have to leave Imo State alone and let the people decide who their governor will be,” Nwoye warned.