By Vincent ujumadu & UCHE OSIBE Awka
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, will today conduct supplementary election in 210 polling units in AnambraState where election was cancelled on November 16, 2013 to determine the winner of the governorship election in the state.
About 4,000 aggrieved women protesting the plan to conduct the Supplementary election in AnambraState were yesterday stopped by security operatives who said they were acting on orders from above.
The angry women who described themselves as “Anambra Women” carried posters which inscriptions which read: “INEC rigging, Bad for Anambra, We no go gree,”” Jega Must go,” “Jega-Jaga must go,”Jega rig Sokoto election, not Anambra,“ “Anambra shall be free,”Cancel Anambra Guber Election now,”New Election , February 2014,Reject INEC results 2013,” “Cancel Anambra Election, sack Jega.”
The women who sang songs disparaging INEC officials and the conduct of November 16 governorship election were marching towards INEC headquarters to call for the cancellation, resignation of THE Commission’s chairman , Professor Attahiru Jega and removal of Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Onukogu.
They called for conduct of a fresh election just as they said the scheduled Supplementary election of November 30 march would not hold.
They marched from Aroma junction but were pushed back by the police as they cornered to enter the route leading towards INEC state headquarters. The police arrived in six trucks to block their way. The women who continued to sing abusive songs insisted that they and the freedom as provided by the constitution to assembly, associate, and express their grievances, but the police denied them access saying they had no authority to demonstrate.
The women opted to stay put at the Aroma junction while the police kept surveillance for about seven hours the women staged the protest.
A spokesperson for the “ Anambra Women” who identified herself as an angry voter from Obosi, said the protest was aimed at sensitising the authorities that the supplementary election billed to hold today, November 30 be cancelled.
She stated that what took place on November 16, this year was a charade saying INEC compromised and took side with a political party and the Presidency to thwart the people’s choice, adding that unpopular candidate was being imposed on the people through selection rather than election.
She stated that the women would resist the imposition of an unpopular candidate as a governor.
Meanwhile, election has already been conducted in 4,398 of the state’s 4608 polling units, with the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Willie Obiano, leading with 174,710 votes and securing 25% in 18 of the 21 local government areas of the state, while Comrade Tony Nwoye of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Senator Chris Ngige of the All Progressives Congress, APC, came second and third with 94, 856 votes and 92, 300 votes respectively. Nwoye also secured 25% in nine local government areas, while Ngige secured 25% in seven local government areas.
The state returning officer in the election, Professor James Epoke, who is the vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, had said that the supplementary poll became necessary because the margin with which the highest scorer, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA beat the runner up, Comrade Tony Nwoye of PDP, was less than 113113 registered voters in the 210 polling units where election was cancelled.
Areas where election will hold today include Idemili North local government area, which has the highest number of 160 cancelled polling units and a combined registered voters’ population of 89,997. Others are four units in Ayamelum local government (1247 voters), one poling unit in Anambra East (250 voters), six units in Anambra West (2000 voters), one unit in Anaocha (276 voters), two units in Awka North (1356 voters), one unit in Aguata (310 voters) and one unit in Awka South (249 voters). Others are three units in Ekwusigo (884 voters), two units in Idemili South (800 voters), one unit in Onitsha North (484 voters), 17 units in Onitsha South (12299 voters), four units in Orumba North (588 voters) and four units in Oyi (1202 voters).
In Idemili North where 89997 votes would be up for grabs today, APC already won 56.6% of the 12,604 votes cast on November 16, 2013 during the first exercise, while in Onitsha South where 12,299 votes would be contested for, APGA won 45% of the 16,782 votes cast, with APC securing 32.6%.
At INEC office in Awka yesterday, a large number of commercial buses being used to covey election materials were sighted about noon as they drove in and out of the commission. The INEC office, which had remained lull since the end of the November 16, came alive yesterday with many ad hoc staff, apparently those that will be on duty today, going in for their materials.
Earlier in the day, security was beefed up around the Aroma area of Awka, with police patrol vehicles stationed at strategic points and completely blocked the six- lane road leading to the INEC office. However, no sooner did the vehicles leave their positions than a group of women carrying placards assembled at the Aroma junction. However, they were prevented from advancing beyond the Enugu –Onitsha expressway into the INEC area.
The police men merely watched as the women sang and made derogatory statements against the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega and the commission.
Some of the placards carried by the women read: ‘Cancel jaga jaga election’, ‘INEC rigging bad for Nigeria’, ‘New register, new election’, and ‘Anambra election should not be different from Edo election’.
Ikedife urges contestants to behave like sportsmen
Former president general of Ohaneze Ndigbo and current chairman of Anambra Elders Council, Dr Dozie Ikedife yesterday advised contestants in the election to develop the spirit of sportsmanship, warning that the Anambra election should not be used to cause chaos in the state.
Ezeife said he was expecting free, fair, peaceful and credible supplementary election that would be generally accepted by all the participants.
He said: “I hope this election will not lead the state to any crisis. The candidates naturally behaved well during the main election. I don’t think the mood has come to the level of causing crisis. But anybody who feels aggrieved has the right to express it, not violently. Anybody who feels cheated has the right to indicate that he feels cheated. That one is basic. You can’t beat a child and ask him not to cry”.
On the likelihood of the grievances ending in court, the elder statesman said : “We should do what we can before we take matters to court. You see, the courts are not what they used to be. You cannot even rely on courts. You should allow the people to take a decision, rather than throw it into a court where one or two persons will take a decision. The court is not as neutral as you think, from experience of events. You can rush to any court now and with proper presentation of your case, get an injunction. The court has not performed up to expectations in certain areas.”
CNPP wants all parties to participate
The Anambra State Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, has also directed all its members that took part in the November 16 election to participate in the supplementary election in the overall best interest of AnambraState and her people.
A statement signed by the state chairman of CNPP, Mrs. Kate Okafor and secretary, Chief Topsy Akudo said: “We advise those who are still aggrieved to seek legitimate and constitutional ways or options available to address their grievances, other than inciting Anambrarians against themselves.
Meanwhile, the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday said movement would be restricted in Onitsha and Idemili North, the two areas where supplementary election would take place today.
The poll will take place in 160 polling units in Idemili North, while the exercise will take place in 17 units in Onitsha South.
The state police command also last night issued a statement urging people to report suspicious movements in the state.
The statement signed by the police public relations officer in the state, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka urged qualified voters to go to the places where elections would hold to cast their votes.
“We also use this opportunity to call on non Anambrarians who want to cry louder than the bereaved to restrain themselves from whipping up unnecessary sentiments and allow the people of the state to try and solve their problems and move on, for there has not been any record of Anambra people meddling in the internal affairs of other states of the federation.”
According to CNPP, INEC was magnanimous enough to admit that there were lapses in some areas during the November 16 election, adding that it is only fair that the commission be allowed to correct the lapses.