As tension continues to mount in the aftermath of last Saturday’s Oguta re-run election, Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has called on INEC to release the result.
He however stated that the APGA candidate in the election, Hon Walter Uzonwanne won about 9,000 votes plus, defeating PDP candidate, Hon Eugene Dibiagwu.
Okorocha who spoke to newsmen at Government House Owerri, said the results of the Oguta election was certified and endorsed by INEC returning officer, Cynthia Oguike after compilation of the results, wondering why INEC will declare the election inconclusive.
The Governor who paraded a copy of the election result, said election took place in about 121 booths, except 8 booths held up in a particular place.
He alleged that a phone call from above compelled INEC not to announce the results of the election, stating that it is unfortunate that for the fourth time an election to give Oguta people a representative in the Imo House of Assembly has been truncated.
He condemned the role of the PDP in the election, stating that the party has never failed to introduce abracadabra whenever there is election in Oguta.
Okorocha said he is disappointed the manner the PDP has gone about the election in Oguta, stating that the party is only willing and ever ready to destroy democracy in Imo state. He accused the party of unwholesome acts and actions, before the election such as framing up the APGA candidate in a kidnap case which led to his detention for three weeks, an attack on his convoy orchestrated by the PDP candidate, Hon Eugene Dibiagwu and other actions aimed at provoking him.
The Imo Governor said the PDP should not misconstrue his quiet and silent disposition as a sign of weakness.
He warned “I have suffered humiliation from PDP simply because I want peace to rein in Imo State. Enough is Enough”
Okorocha stated that the PDP is a drowning party in Imo State, arguing if the Oguta election is conducted several times; the PDP will fail and crumble.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo state has accused Governor Okorocha of paying thousands of U.S Dollars to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Imo state, Prof (Mrs) Celina Oko, to rig the election in favour of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate at the just held Oguta Assembly re-run election that was declared inconclusive.
PDP Publicity Secretary, Chief Blyden Amajirionwu said this in a world press briefing at the PDP office in Owerri. He noted that prior to the election, the PDP has written to INEC office in Abuja opposing the use of Prof. Oko as the INEC boss in conducting the election which the electoral body did not heed to even when the woman has continued to play sentimental role in previous elections. The PDP scribe among other things noted that APGA saw the election as a do or die affair which warranted their mobilizing brazen thugs, who had the effrontery to engage police and other security agencies in a gun battle. He also accused Gov. Okorocha of mobilizing all his commissioners to Oguta so as to help perfect their rigging strategy. Blyden singled out the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Anthony Anwuka, for taking some INEC officials to Owerri and from their hide out, they announced APGA as the winer of Egwe/Egbuoma ward.
He noted that in Ossemotor/Enuigbo ward, it was full of controversies as Gov. Okorocha used his son-in-law, Commissioner Uche Nwosu, Commissioner Mbanaso and Kenneth Emelue, to rig the election. He queried how possible it is that PDP will get zero votes in the said Ossemotor/Enuigbo ward.
He maintained that what INEC has as inconclusive result saw PDP polling 7585 votes while APGA had 7241 votes. He finally asked Oguta people to remain calm and law abiding as PDP is doing all to claim their right mandate.
Meanwhile, a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations on the re-run election in Oguta State Constituency said that the outcome of such inconclusive election was a coup against the electorates and a rape on the democracy of Nigerian government. The body which is headed by Comrade Chijioke Onyekaonwu said this in a chat with journalists at Owerri.
Comrade Onyekaonwu said that “The election was manipulated against humanity, the electorates, Imo State, Nigeria and democracy. We hereby condemn and reject such allocation of results and call for the cancellation of those results from Osemotor/Onuigbo and Egwe/Egbuoma Wards while the eight polling units that the election did not take place should be re-conducted for the electorates to exercise their civic right without any further delay”.
He also pointed out that some poll officials in Egwe/Egbuoma collaborated with some politicians to rig the election which they condemned in its totality.
He finally thanked all that worked for peace and fairness in the election and said that they look forward to the rectification of the various anomalies committed during the Oguta constituency election and allow peoples mandate to be upheld for the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
In a related development, more facts are continuing to emerge on reasons why the re-run election in Oguta State Constituency was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Apart from the violence and allegation of widespread electoral offences by the contending parties, results of the election would have been announced and winner declared by the umpire but for last minute developments that necessitated the intrigues which led to INEC pronouncement.
Despite the recorded violence which turned last Saturday’s voting to a blood bath, the decision to declare the election was actually taking at the central collecting point of INEC at the council headquarters, Mmahu.
Our correspondent who monitored the election and was visibly present at the council headquarters reported that disagreements among those present at the final collation centre forced the INEC main returning officer to declare it in conclusive.
At the final collation centre, INEC officials and security operatives only requested for party agents who were allowed in to monitor events. While collection of result was brought in said to be from Osemotor/Onuigbo ward. The PDP agent at the LGA level and member representing Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru West Federal Constituency, Hon Gerald Ironna objected to the acceptance of the results alleging that there was no election there as police reports and claims of party agents indicate that no election was held when armed thugs attacked prospective voters and carted away election items. A senior police officer at the collection centre also corroborated Ironna’s claims when he reported that a police DSP (names withheld) and an agent were matched. When they reported and made official statements to police at Oguta, a patrol team was sent but came back to avoid loss of lives in the ensuing skirmishes. Arguments ensued among the parties before INEC decided to keep the result for further verifications. In the said Osemotor/Onuigbo ward result, of the 1,714 registered voters, the result presented to INEC indicated that 1442 voters were accredited. While APGA had 1,368, PDP and others had nothing. The result stunned observers and even INEC workers who also objected to it adding that it was in contrast to other results recorded so far where both PDP and APGA were having a family race in the results.
Another disturbing result that may have informed INEC to forget announcement is the Egwe/Egbuoma Ward result which the PDP agent also rejected when it was submitted at the LGA collation centre. The returning officer claimed he went to Owerri with the result after election ended in the ward before finding his way to Oguta again. When challenged over the action, the INEC staff claimed he missed the road. However, INEC senior staff incharge of recording the proceeding who is said to have been drafted to the area from Abia State, read a portion of the INEC law which contravenes his action as he was expected to move from ward collation centre to the LGA collection centre than Owerri, where it was learnt the result was written in the Owerri house of a top government appointee (names withheld) from the area.
At that point the results were taken by INEC as evidences for further verifications on the contentions of the PDP agent that the results were fake and manufactured by the APGA. The PDP agent asked security men to arrest the two returning officers.
Confused on what to do, the state INEC Commissioner, Prof Selina Oko had no other option than to declare the result in conclusive when claims and counter clams from PDP and APGA agent disrupted proceedings.
At the end, a top INEC official disclosed that the election is inconclusive because the number of registered voters in the booths where election did not hold out numbers the total number of votes cast so far. Adding that it would not be proper to announce the result with what was garnered so far.
Speaking to newsmen over arrests by the state Police Command according to the State PRO, Joy said 118 persons have been arrested. Said Joy “as we did promise before the election that the structures we have on ground was effective enough to guarantee protection of life and properties, be informed that a total number of One Hundred and Eighteen (118) suspects were arrested in some parts of Oguta Local Government Area”.
The 118 suspects who were arrested in various hide outs/locations before, during and immediately after the elections are undergoing interrogation for various offences including, but not limited to conduct likely to cause breach of the peace, unlawful assembly, unlawful possession of firearms, obstructing the Police Officers, malicious damage etc.
According to her, items recovered include; Four (4) Pump Action guns, one double barrel gun believed to have been brought in from Anambra State, one matchet and assorted handsets.
After preliminary investigations, those indicted will be charged to court immediately, she maintained.