By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Enugu state, Senator Ayogu Eze has rejected the declaration of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the duly elected governor of the state in Saturday’s gubernatorial elections.
The former lawmaker premised his rejection of the election results on the fact that his name was not published among the governorship candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, until a few days to the election.
The electoral umpire on Monday announced Ugwuanyi, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, winner of the poll, after garnering a total of 449, 935 votes while Ayogu Eze scored 10, 423 votes.
In a statement signed by Okey Ezirigwe, Director (Media) of the Ayogu Eze Campaign Organization, the APC candidate, decried what he called low voter turnout during the exercise even as he alleged instances of electoral irregularities across the state.
The statement read: “We have seen some oven-baked figures churned out by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Enugu as the result of the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
“These fabricated figures fly in the face of the very low turnout of voters in the entire state, resulting from the mistreatment of our candidate by INEC.
“It would be recalled that a few days before the election, INEC published the final list of governorship candidates for the Saturday, March 9, 2019 governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Enugu State on its website, without the names of the APC governorship and deputy governorship candidates for Enugu State, a situation the electoral body strangely explained, resulted from a court order.
“On March 7, 2019, the Court of Appeal cleared whatever legal obstruction that INEC invoked, declaring Senator Ayogu Eze, in a unanimous decision, the validly nominated governorship candidate of APC, Enugu state.
“The Appeal Court judgment compelling INEC to immediately restore our candidate on the candidates list, was served on INEC the same day which it acknowledged but refused to effect, up to the moment polls closed on Saturday, in clear violation and contempt of the court order, leading to unlawful exclusion of our validly nominated candidates.
“This development occasioned massive voter apathy leading to the lowest voter turnout ever recorded in Enugu State. We make bold to state that it will be a miracle if as many as 100,000 persons participated in the Saturday election in the State, if the card reader is queried.
“The absence of voters gave the PDP and those collaborating with it the ample opportunity to manufacture figures, which they have now put out as election results.”
The statement continued: “Our supporters observed that while the card reader was supposed to have been programmed to stop functioning at 2pm, many polling centres remained open, up to as late as 5pm with massive thumb-printing going on, using multiple fingers and objects to mark the ballot papers.”
He called on the people of Enugu State, institutions and people of Nigeria “not to only reject these forged figures described as governorship election results from an election that never took place in Enugu State, but to denounce the said election as a farce.
“The stark evidence of a highly depressed voter turnout that indicates about 65% drop on the general turnout during the March 2, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections challenges the legitimacy of the electoral process and undermines the freakish and offbeat victory claimed by the PDP.
“The government in Enugu State clearly refused to work for the people, only having its mind fixated on winning a second term through foul means, including the suffocation of opposition through sponsored intrigues, deception, manipulation of the people and collusion with unseen forces, to influence the outcome of the election.
“We are also witnesses to how, out of desperation, the same government provocatively sent some goons to eliminate our principal in the guise of fake election observers who at the same time adorned our opponents fez caps to his country home.”