BY CHIDI NKWOPARA

The gubernatorial election in Imo State took place like in any other state where the poll were scheduled for April 26, 2011.

Before the election, the dominant political party in the state was the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The party’s structure stood it out. Then came an implosion, that created the opportunity for dissenting members of the party to move into and revive  hitherto non_functional parties.

The likes of former governor of the State, Chief Achike Udenwa, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, former speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Noel Agwuocha Chukwukadibia and former commissioner for agriculture, Chief Soronnadi Njoku, found solace in Action Congress of Nigeria. A host of other loyalists of Udenwa changed camp with him.

Chief Rochas Okorocha and Ohakim

Chief Rochas Okorocha traced his locus to All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, which was largely financed by Chief Martin Agbaso, who also flew the party’s flag in the 2007 gubernatorial election. With time some other members of the PDP joined him in APGA.

The processes began Monday when the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor (Mrs.) Selina Okoh, inspected the polling materials in the watchful eyes of political party agents before distributing them to their offices in the local council areas of the state.

Again, contrary to speculations that the State would be turned into a theatre of war during the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, voting progressed peacefully in most of the polling centres visited by our Correspondent.

The gubernatorial election turned out to be an epic battle between the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Rolling out the results, the Returning Officer, Professor Enoch Akobundu, said “there was no voting in Ngor Okpala local council area of the state. Similarly, Akobundu had started reading out the figures garnered in Oguta local government area but stopped midway, saying “it was inconclusive”.

At press time, APGA had won in 12 local government areas: Isu, Oru West, Oru East, Njaba, Orlu, Owerri Municipal, Ideato North, Owerri North, Nkwerre, Owerri West, Oru East and Ideato South.

Governor Ikedi Ohakim and his PDP were declared winners in 11 local government areas: Onuimo, Nwangele, Ikeduru, Isiala Mbano, Ehime Mbano, Okigwe, Ahiazu Mbaise, Aboh Mbaise, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Ihitte Uboma and Obowo.
Chief Okorocha got his highest voted in Orlu, 30,914, Ideato North 20,465, Owerri Municipal 19,549, Owerri North 19,901 and Ideato South 27,400.

Governor Ohakim made his gains from Isiala Mbano 28,090, Ehime 21,969, Aboh Mbaise 20,171, Ahiazu Mbaise 16,055, Ezinihtte Mbaise 13,063, Obowo 12,352, Ikeduru 18,922, Okigwe 14,043 and Ihitte Uboma 14,462.

The outstanding results, at press time were being expected from Mbaitoli, Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta local government areas.

After waiting till about
7.40pm for the result, the Returning Officer, Professor Enoch Akobundu, announced that the election was “incomplete,” because as he said returning officer for Mbaitoli local government area, Mr. Franklin Matthew, had no result to present for the area.

Besides, he said about 12,000 voters did not exercise their franchise.

“Because of the number that were not able to cast their votes in Ohaji/Egbema local government area, and because the figure will ultimately be altered after voting must have taken place in the affected areas, polling in the area is adjudged inconclusive”, Akobundu said, adding “There was no polling in Ngor Okpala. There was no election in some wards in Oguta and Ohaji Egbema.

The results so far received shows that two parties were running neck to neck.
“In view of the fact that the gap is too narrow, the governorship election in Imo State is therefore incomplete.  “The law does not allow me to announce any result”.

Reacting to the apparent stalemate in the state, the National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party was ready to accept the gubernatorial results from parts of Orlu senatorial zone, “despite the obvious irregularities experienced in the area”.

Metuh, told reporters that there was a high level conspiracy against PDP in the state.

“The remaining areas of Ngor Okpala, Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta, where INEC said were inclusive, are PDP strongholds. INEC should please conduct the run_off elections in these areas immediately, so as not to run into any constitutional bottleneck or announce the results already sent in by the electoral officers in the affected areas”, Chief Metuh said, and alleged that APGA  had mobilized its loyalists to cause mayhem in the state, stressing that they should remember there is a sitting government in the state.

When reminded that the INEC returning officer in Mbaitoli said he had no result to submit from the area, Metuh said PDP was not bothered by the development.

“It does not really matter if PDP lost the area. We have no problem with Mbaitoli. INEC should have accepted and released the results where polls held in Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema and Mbaitoli”, Metuh said.

Meanwhile, scores of youths believed to be loyalists of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, laid siege to Owerri, the Imo State capital and practically halted traffic in some of the major roads in the municipality.

On hearing that INEC was going to conduct polls run_off in Ngor Okpala, APGA loyalists hired several commercial buses, raced to the area and also laid siege to Umuneke, the local government headquarters.

APGA loyalists, made up largely of youths, heard the some independent observers wanted to brief the press in Dreamland Hotel, Owerri, they not only surged to the place but also attacked innocent guests and destroyed some personal property, including cars, until they were sacked by security operatives.

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, a deputy superintendent of police, DSP, said the Command had deployed its men in all the strategic places in the state.

“We have deployed our men in all the strategic places to ensure that the peace prevailing in the state was not disturbed. This is our constitutional duty and we are determined to maintain it”, Nwaiwu said.

On whether the Command had made any arrests, the PPRO he was yet to get any such brief but quickly warned parents and guardians to put their children and wards in check to avoid any unpleasant consequences.

In his own reaction, the State PDP Chairman, Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), described the use of thugs to press home an electoral matter is anachronistic, adding that “PDP is not prepared to employ self help in the current development”, adding that “we expect INEC to release the results so far sent in by their officers”.

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