By Tony Edike,
Awka – Some Polling booth results released afterÂ Saturday”s governorship election in Anambra State indicated that Governor Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA was leading in most of the local government areas even as other opposition parties including the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Labour Party candidates continued to lament what they described as the poor conduct of the election by INEC.
Results declared at the end of voting in Anaocha, Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Aguata council areas showed that the incumbent governor was comfortably placed as his supporters went into jubilation. INEC had in its guideline for the election authorized the declaration of winners at every polling booth as part of measures to check rigging.
While leaders of PDP and other opposition parties were complaining about the poor conduct of the election, the leader of APGA and Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu showered praises on electoral body and security agencies for the peaceful conduct of the exercise.
National Vice Chairman of PDP South East zone, Mr. Olisa Metuh, speaking on behalf of his party described the election as a charade saying what took place in Anambra yesterday can not pass for a credible election.
He said that several people were disenfranchised and thrown into confusion because they could not find their names in the votersâ€™ register in many polling booths across the state,Â demanding that something concrete must be done to remedy the situation.
â€œThis is not an election.Â It is a fraud.Â There is total disenfranchisement of the people.Â It will affect the turn out of voters in subsequent election.Â Some thing should be done by INEC to change their operation totally otherwise there will be no hope in subsequent elections
â€œWhoever wins the election is not something any decent person should be proud of.Â I didnâ€™t vote, I went to seven polling centers but I couldnâ€™t find my name.Â I have my voterâ€™s card but they did not allow me to vote and several other eligible voters couldnâ€™t vote also because of the same problem.Â It is really a shame,â€ Metuh said after the election yesterday.
Labour Party candidate, Dr. Andy Uba also speaking in the same vain, lamented that the entire election was a â€œcomplete messâ€ and wondered how a winner could emerge from it.Â He said that four out of the six polling booths within his Uga community in Aguata Local government were completely missing and INEC could not give any reason for dropping them.
The development, he said, led to the disenfranchisement of majority of voters in the area, adding that the situation was almost the same in most of the local government areas of the state.Â â€œReports reaching me from the field said most of our people could not vote because their names were not in the register and even when they posses original votersâ€™ cards they were denied the opportunity of voting.Â I have never seen anything like this,â€ he said.
Asked if he would call for cancellation of the election, Uba said he would study the situation further and make necessary consultation with a view to reaching final conclusion on the exercise.
But the APGA leader, Ojukwu who voted along with his wife, Bianca at a polling booth near their Nnewi residence, said he was overwhelmed by the number of security men all over the place.Â â€œI find it difficult to know why we have such security men around.Â Apart from that it was generally calm.Â I am surprised that I did not witness any fist-cuff. I did not see any ugly incident and I feel proud of that,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Peter Obi, according to early results, led in the following local government areas. Anaocha,Onitsha South,Onitsha North,Ekwusigo,Ihiala 1,Ihiala2, Anambra East, Anambra West,Awka North,Awka South,Orumba North,Orumba South,Njikoka, Ogbaru, Aguata and Anyamelum.
Dr. Chris Ngige of the AC led in Idemili North,Idemili South.More results awaited
Although Ojukwu said he heard some votersâ€™ complaint regarding inadequate voting material and inability to find their names in the register, the electoral body was on the way to getting free poll. â€œI like to use this opportunity to congratulate INEC.Â They were not perfect now, but it is clear to me that they did a good work, and as an Anambrarian and as a Nigerian, I can say we are on our way to getting the type of election that we look forward to,â€ the Ikemba Nnewi added.
Apart from the complaints of votersâ€™ inability to trace their names in the register, some over-zealous security men really abused their powers as they freely harassed accredited media men covering the election across the state.Â Some security men especially those from the mobile police force mounted roadblocks at Agulu in Anaocha Local government area where they subjected journalists and voters to a rigorous search.
The police team led by an inspector refused the honour the INEC accreditation cards issued to journalists and insisted that only those with their official identity cards would be allowed to travel on the road to get to other neighbouring local government areas where they were to perform their duties.
The police inspector who would not listen to any explanation from the media men had threatened to shoot anybody who dared to come close to the barricade, a development that forced the media men to either turn back to Awka or take other alternative routes.
Generally the attitude of the policemen deployed to the local government areas left much to be desired and rather than providing the needed security for voters and electoral officers and materials, engaged mild protest over the alleged delay in paying their allowances.
Reports from many councils said the policemen refused to escort electoral materials to the polling booths because they had not been paid their allowances, a development that was blamed for the late commencement of the election in most councils.
For instance, policemen deployed to Aguata local government refused to escort the electoral officers to the polling centers as most of the officials left the distribution centers without security escort.
At Uga Ward 2 that witnessed large turn out of voters, no policeman was present at the center until 3 pm when four policemen arrived in a Mitsubishi bus to meet an already charged crowd of voters who could not find their names in the votersâ€™ register.
Electoral officers incharge of the center operated under intense pressure as voters and party agents harassed them.