Imo, Edo rescheduled APC primaries hold amid tight security

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ALEXANDER OKERE and CHIDIEBUBE OKEOMA

There was tight security in Imo State on Saturday as members of the All Progressives Congress voted across the 305 wards in the state to elect the party’s governorship candidate.

This is coming after the National Working Committee of the party cancelled the earlier primary which produced two candidates, Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodinma, after the chairman of the electoral panel, Ahmed Gulak, was said to have absconded with the result sheet. Uzodinma has, however, pulled out of the fresh election.

The chairman of the electoral panel, Ibrahim Agbabiaka, who spoke to journalists after meeting with the aspirants on the modalities for the primary, said apart from the governorship primary, the primaries for Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly would go on at various wards at the same time.

Our correspondent, who monitored the primaries across the state, reports that voters queued behind the photographs of their preferred aspirants.

The state governor, Rochas Okorocha, is contesting the ticket of the party for Imo West senatorial district.

The national leadership of the party had approved direct primary for the party’s state chapter.

At Eziama Obaire in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state, where one of the governorship aspirants, Nwosu, voted, many party members were seen voting for their choice candidates after which the returning officer, Festus Eze, did the counting.

Nwosu, who spoke to journalists after voting, said direct primary approved by the National Working Committee gave the aspirants the opportunity to test their popularity.

Eze later announced Nwosu as the winner of the ward having polled 4,815 votes, adding that other aspirants scored zero votes.

Eziama Obaire is the hometown of Nwosu who is a son-in-law and the immediate past Chief of Staff to Okorocha.

At Amucha ward in the Njaba council area, the retuning officer was still counting the votes when our correspondent was at the ward.

Party members were still waiting for the arrival of electoral officials in some of the polling units in the Owerri Municipal Council Area of the state when SUNDAY PUNCH visited.

A voter, Chike Michael, expressed optimism that the exercise would be peaceful despite the tension which trailed it.

Also in Edo State, members of the party, on Saturday, trooped to their respective wards to elect candidates in the rescheduled legislative primaries.

The exercise, earlier held on Thursday across the 192 wards to elect the 2019 candidates for the three senatorial, nine House of Representatives and 24 House of Assembly seats, was cancelled by the National Working Committee of the APC.

Although the decision was earlier rejected by the state working committee, it later bowed to pressure from the party’s national secretariat.

Our correspondent, who monitored the election, observed that many of the party members voted by queueing behind the posters of their preferred aspirants.

There was also a heavy presence of policemen around the wards.

At Ward 4, in the Oredo Local Government Area of the state, party members were urged to display their membership cards to enable them to vote.

In the Esan West Local Government Area, it was learnt that the exercise didn’t record a large turnout of members.

Also, journalists were barred from entering the party secretariat on Airport Road as party officials insisted that access would only be granted to the media when the results were ready.

Meanwhile, the chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Samuel Anyanwu, rejected the outcome of the Imo governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Anyanwu, who briefed journalists in Owerri, said irregularities marred the exercise which produced a former Deputy Speaker of the lower legislative chamber, Emeka Ihedioha, as the party’s standard bearer.

Anyanwu alleged that those who shouldn’t vote were assisted into the venue to vote for aspirants.

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