*Records landslide victory in Ihiala supplementary poll

*Gunmen engage joint security operatives in a shootout at Ihiala

*IPOB denies involvement in gun duel with security forces

*IPOB didn’t clash with security forces — Adinuba

*We don’t know of any killing in Ihiala —Police

*Umeh denied entry at Ihiala LGA secretariat

Anambra: It’s Soludo
Professor Charles Soludo

By Clifford Ndujihe, Vincent Ujumadu, Chimaobi Nwaiwu

After 48 hours delay, former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, is Anambra State governor-elect.

He recorded a landslide victory in Ihiala LGA supplementary election, yesterday, to extend his lead over his challengers.

Although he polled 103,946 votes and  won 18 of the 20 local councils election results announced on Sunday night, the INEC declared the poll inconclusive early Monday morning and did not return him as winner.

Reason: His 52,624 votes margin of lead over the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, who scored 51,322 votes, is lower than the 148,407 registered voters in Ihiala LGA where election was not conducted on Saturday.

So, the electoral commission scheduled the supplementary poll in Ihiala, yesterday, which Soludo won in style, recording a landslide victory.

READ ALSO: ANAMBRA ELECTION RESULTS: Live Updates From Ihiala

The poll was peaceful. At press time last night, he was yet to be officially declared by the INEC.

Although, election officials did not arrive most of the 326 polling units of Ihiala on time, accreditation of voters with Bimodal Verification Accreditation System, BVAS, was smooth and markedly different from what happened in many polling stations on Saturday.

Gunmen, security operatives battle in Ihiala

Some gunmen, yesterday afternoon engaged security operatives in a shoot-out for about three hours at the border town of Orsumoghu.

The town is about two kilometres from Orsu local government in Imo State.

At the Mbosi, Orsumoghu/Azia junction, a group of journalists monitoring the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Council ran into the security personnel, comprising soldiers, police, and civil defence, among others, who asked them to turn back immediately because unknown gunmen, suspected to be IPOB members, were operating in the area.

One of the operatives told Vanguard that they had been exchanging fire with IPOB, adding that following the superior fire power of security operatives, the suspected secessionists ran into the bush.

The unknown gunmen were suspected to be going to the Ihiala Local Government headquarters where collation of the supplementary election result would take place later in the day.

“For your own safety, just turn back to Ihiala and drive through Onitsha to Awka. If you pass this place, those people may attack you,” he advised.

At the Ihiala Divisional Polite Station, a convoy of reinforcement with over 20 truck loads of heavily armed personnel was seen heading to the area.

There was presence of Army, Police, DSS and Civil Defense at every entry and exit of Ihiala Local Government Area, which has boundary with Imo State and part of Rivers State, as they prevented vehicular movement in and out of Ihiala, and this caused serious hold up.

Police helicopters were continuously hovering round the local government, while security men patrolled the town and polling units to ensure peace.

IPOB denies involvement in gun battle

Denying its involvement in the shoot-out, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, distanced itself from shoot-out with security forces and alleged attempt to disrupt the poll. It described attempt to link it with such act as the handiwork of its enemies.

The lPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said the group had no business stopping the Anambra governorship election, adding that it was the reason it cancelled its earlier sit-at-home directive to save the election from the high level rigging the enemies of Biafra land and Anambra State had perfected.

He wondered why IPOB would turn round to disrupt the election it saved from being hijacked by electoral criminals who allegedly took Imo State.

The statement read: “We have intercepted credible intelligence report that some unscrupulous elements and groups are making frantic efforts to upturn the overriding decision of Ndi Anambra at Ihiala.

‘’It is common knowledge that IPOB has no political affiliation or affinity with anybody, or any political party, but the wishes of our people cannot be upturned, including those of Anambra people.

“Our preoccupation has been the preservation, protection and projection of the well-being of Biafraland, nothing more.

“This informs why we had to call off the sit-at-home to enable our people participate in choosing who governs them.

“It will be foolhardy for us to lift the sit at-home order, only to disrupt the election, thereby giving strangers opportunity to stampede the will of the people.

“That will not happen, IPOB is not known for speaking from both sides of the mouth and reneging on its promises and statements.

“IPOB has been compelled by exigencies to send this warning to those being used to subvert the peoples’ mandate, they should allow the peoples’ will to prevail.

“Let the peoples’ will prevail, that is our stand. What happened in Imo State cannot happen again in any South-East state.”

Reacting to the election yesterday, Deputy Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly, Pascal Agbodike, and Director of Academic Planning, Chukwuemeka Odumehwu Ojukwu University, Professor Obi, have described the supplementary governorship poll in Ihiala LGA as the most peaceful election ever conducted in Nigeria.

Agbodike and Prof. Obi, who are both indigenes of Mbosi, and voted at St Augustine’s College Mbosi, said  the supplementary election in Ihiala was a reference point for peaceful, free, fair and credible poll.

IPOB didn’t clash with security forces – Adinuba

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, has dismissed  reports  that IPOB operatives  had a bloody clash with security agents, particularly the Army, which allegedly resulted to loss of life.

Adinuba who is also from Ihiala, explained what happened: “There is a very small town called Orsumoghu, sharing a boundary with Nnewi South Local Government Area of the state but within Ihiala Local Government Area, but not in Ihiala town.

“That is where there have been so many attacks by unknown gunmen.

“So this time, we suspect that they were opposition party election thugs and not IPOB members even though some IPOB members are known to operate there.

“They accosted some INEC officials who were going for election duties probably to snatch the electoral materials they were going to work with in that town, Orsumoghu.

‘’However, the Army, as you know, and other security agents, were stationed in all parts of Ihiala to provide security.

“So, the Army on getting the information rushed to the town and rescued the INEC officials and their materials and the thugs ran into the bush.

“I am not aware of any killing both from the side of the Army or the thugs. The Army remained there to ensure peace.

“What I know is that the Army prevented election from going on there for the safety of INEC officials, but remained there in Orsumoghu while the voters in Orsumoghu were moved to Azia, a neighbouring town to Ihiala town, to vote.

‘’So, the incident was not a big deal, it was nothing serious, the Army repelled them and they took to their heels, it was not IPOB, per say.’’

We don’t know of any killing in Ihiala — Police

Similarly, the Police denied knowledge of the killing of anybody during the Anambra State governorship supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area of the state.

There was an unconfirmed report that soldiers patrolling distribution/ collation centres at Ihiala Local Government headquarters reportedly shot dead someone.

At the local government headquarters, those interviewed denied knowledge of the incident.

When contacted on phone, the Public Relations Officer of Zone 13 Police Headquarters, Ukpor, Nkeiru Nwode, said there was nothing like that before the police.

“We don’t have such report and I don’t think something like that happened,” she said.

Umeh denied entry at Ihiala LGA secretariat

Former APGA national chairman and the party’s agent for the governorship poll, Senator Victor Umeh, was turned back at the Ihiala LGA Secretariat by security operatives.

Umeh, who arrived the secretariat around 10:30 am in company of some party members, was turned back by a senior military officer.

Umeh had explained that he was at the secretariat to monitor the distribution of materials to ensure that things went well.

The military officer told the the former lawmaker that he had no business being at the secretariat because he was just the state agent at the state collation centre, Awka.

Ihiala has 148,407 voters with PVCs, not 42,000 – INEC

As the supplementary poll got under way, yesterday, there were reports that only 42,000 of the 148,407 registered voters in Ihiala LGA had permanent voters cards, PVCs.

Dismissing the report as fake news, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: ‘’The Independent National Electoral Commission did not give any figure of the number of collected and uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for the Ihiala Local Government Area.

‘’Therefore, the so called figure of “42,000 Collected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs)” did not and could not have emanated from INEC. It’s fake news.

‘’In any case, the over 148,000 Registered Voters in Ihiala are made up of already registered voters who have their PVCs in their possession, and they form the larger percentage, as well as those who registered during the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.”

INEC didn’t bungle poll

Following the glitches that trailed accreditation of voters for which APGA candidate, Professor Chukwuma Soludo waited for over five hours before he could vote as well as the experience of Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, there were complaints and allegations that INEC was not ready and almost bungled the poll.

Voters turned out en masse but many of them could not vote because of non-accreditation via BVAS and other logistics, such as non-arrival of election officials or late commencement of polling in many areas.

The outcome of this shoddy arrangement makes the 2021 poll the worst Anambra governorship election since 1999 in terms of voters turnout.

Commenting on this allegation and perception, Mr Oyekanmi told Vanguard: “The commission did not bungle the Anambra Governorship election.

“While it was true that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, did not work well in some areas, the issues were resolved and people were able to cast their votes.

“The device actually worked well in many areas. So far, we have released the results of 20 out of 21 LGAs.

“Human beings, and not ghosts, voted in each of these 20 LGAs. The commission has the capacity to successfully conduct and conclude today’s (yesterday) supplementary election in Ihiala LGA.

“The election is ongoing and we assure the good people of Anambra State that their votes will count.’’

No fewer than 237,362 voters were accredited in the 20 local councils before the supplementary poll in Ihiala.

ANAMBRA GOVERNORSHIP POLL RESULT

Party     Candidate           Score

Accord  Godwin Maduka              2,054    

AA          Etiaba Chukwuogo          83                          

AAC       Nwankwo Chidozie         588

ADC Akachukwu Nwankpo        324

ADP    Afam Ume-Ezeoke          773        

APC      Andy Uba            43,285

APGA    Chukwuma Soludo   112,229

APP        Azubuike Echetebu  139        

APM      Onyejegbu Okwudili  301

BP          Chika Okeke       186

LP        Emmanuel Agbasimalo  2,802

NNPP    Ohajimkpo Emeka        117

NRM      Ezenwafor Victor         213

PDP        Valentine Ozigbo           53,807

PRP        Nnamdi Nwawuo         437

SDP        Obinna Uzor       842

YPP        Ifeanyi Ubah      21,261

ZLP        Obiora Okonkwo     2,082

Registered voters            2,466,638

Accredited voters            253,388

Valid votes                          241,523

Rejected votes 8,108

TOTAL VOTES CAST         249,631

How Soludo won

With 112,229 votes, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Candidate, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday, won the Anambra State Governorship election. He won the supplementary election in Ihiala LGA with 8,283 votes.

His closest challenger, Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, polled 53,807 votes and got 2,485 votes in Ihiala.

APC’s Andy Uba got 43,285 votes while YPP’s Ifeanyi Uba scored 21,261 votes.

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