*INEC postpones election in Ihiala, with 148,407 registered voters, to Nov 13
*Soludo leads, wins 17 councils
*Fear of election being inconclusive looms
*YPP wins Nnewi North, PDP wins Ogbaru, APC records nil
*I signed Orumba North result under duress — Collation officer
*41 Idemili South result sheets’re carted away – Collation officer
*We observed widespread incidences of vote buying – CDD
*Police, Yiaga commend voters’ enthusiasm, resilience
By Clifford Ndujihe, Vincent Ujumadu, Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Gabriel Ewepu
While Professor Chukwuma Soludo is in the lead, the winner of the Anambra State 2021 governorship election may be decided by the outcome of the poll in Ihiala LGA, which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has rescheduled for November 13.
Due to non-arrival of election materials and irregularities, the poll could not be conducted in Ihiala on Saturday. It was later extended to Sunday but again was, yesterday, postponed to Saturday, November 13.
Although, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Candidate in the election, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was coasting home to victory as results of the poll were being tallied by the INEC, yesterday, fears that the poll may be declared inconclusive without Ihiala Local Council, which has 148,407 registered voters on INEC’s list, loomed.
Currently, Soludo has 98,178 votes; Mr. Val Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is on the second spot with 49,401 votes while Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress, APC is coming third with 40,770 votes.
As it is, depending on the outcome of the Ihiala election, either Ozigbo or Uba can overtake Soludo because 148,407 potential votes are available. There was no election in Oba Ward 1, Oba Ward II and Akukwu Ward, all in Idemili South LGA, which have no fewer than 40,000 registered voters.
Also, INEC was meeting to decide whether or not to accept Orumba North LGA result, which the collation officer claimed he signed under duress. the council has 93,620 registered voters.
However, in the event of any of them overtaking Soludo, there may be a run-off between the candidate and Soludo because neither APC nor PDP has met the spread of at least 25 per cent of votes in 14 local councils, which constitute two-thirds of the 21 local councils.
Rescheduling the election for November 13, 2021, INEC warned trouble-makers to steer clear of all the venues where the poll will hold in Ihiala Local Council.
When Vanguard visited some of the venues of the election, including Okohia Primary School, Ihiala, INEC officials who were to conduct the election were packing their materials to leave the scene.
INEC officials met at Okohia Primary School Ihiala declined comments, claiming that they were incompetent to speak on the matter but noted that the election had been postponed till next Saturday.
How Soludo floored his opponents
Soludo won 17 of the 19 LGAs announced so far. He lost Nnewi North and Ogbaru.
Nnewi North was won by the Young Progressive Party, YPP, candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah while Ozigbo won Ogbaru.
With the INEC rescheduling election in Ihiala Local Council for November 13, results from two local councils are being awaited.
With a margin of over 39,000 votes, Soludo has taken a significant lead over his opponents.
A break down of results announced so far by collation officers at the INEC headquarters, in Awka showed that in Dunukofia LGA, APGA scored 4,124 votes, the PDP got 1,680 while the APC had 1,991.
In Awka South LGA, APGA polled 12,891 votes, PDP – 5,498, and APC – 2,595.
For Oyi LGA, APGA won with 6,133 votes, followed by the APC- 2,830, and PDP – 2,484, while in
Ayamelum LG, the results are as followed: APGA- 3,424, PDP- 2,804, APC – 2,409.
Anambra East LGA recorded the following result: APGA – 9,746, APC- 2,034, and PDP – 1,380.
Results from Anaocha Local Government Area showed that APGA had 6,911 votes, PDP- 5,108, and APC – 2,085.
The election result in Idemili South LGA is as follows: APGA -2,312; PDP-2,016; APC- 1,039 and YPP -752.
In Aguata LGA, it was APC – 4773; APGA – 9136; PDP -3798; and YPP -1070 votes
In Njikoka, APGA had the upper hand with 8808 votes followed by PDP, 3409 votes; APC, 3,216 votes ; and YPP -924 votes
However, YPP’s Ifeanyi Ubah showed his might in his native Nnewi North where he became the only governorship candidate among the other 16, who delivered his local council.
He polled an unassailable 6,485 votes to outwit Soludo of APGA, who garnered 3,369 votes. APC’s Andy Uba got 1,778 votes while Ozigbo of the PDP scored 1,511 votes.
In Onitsha South, it was APC-3,909; APGA -3,387; PDP – 3,781; and YPP-682 votes.
A similar result was posted in Onitsha South as follows: APC- 2,050; APGA, 4,281; PDP -2,253; and YPP-271 votes.
For Orumba South, the results were APC- 2.060; APGA – 4,394; PDP -1,672; and YPP – 887 votes.
In Nnewi South, APGA continued its winning streak with 3,243 votes compared to APC’s 1,307; PDP’s 2,227; and YPP’s 1,327 votes.
The result for Awka North showed APGA polling 1,908 votes. APC got 775 votes while PDP scored 840 votes.
In Ekwusigo, it was APC, 1237; APGA, 2570; and PDP, 1857. And in Idemili North, APC scored 2291; APGA garnered 5358 votes while PDP had 2312 votes.
In Ogbaru LGA, Ozigbo held sway, polling 3,445 votes while Soludo had 3,051 votes and Andy Uba ot 1,233 votes.
We observed widespread incidences of vote buying – CDD
Meanwhile, a preliminary report by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, alleged widespread vote-buying by political parties across the state.
Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, CDD Director of Research, Sa’eed Usaini claimed that most of the electoral crimes were committed with security operatives looking the other way.
“We have also noted widespread incidences of vote-buying that will likely negatively impact the credibility of the election result,” he said.
“CDD observers reported numerous not so discreet cases of ‘see and buy’ in polling units across the 21 LGAs of the state.
“In many reported cases, police officers have been alleged to have looked the other way likely as a result of having themselves been compromised.”
Usaini also noted that there were reports of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, failing across numerous polling units in the state, noting that the repeated occurrence threatens the quality of the election outcome.
In several incidences, the CDD Director said the BVAS failed to recognise voters’ faces and fingerprints, and those affected were asked to wait until the challenge was resolved.
This is even as he noted that CDD observers reported malfunctioning of the BVAS in Ayamelum Local Government Area with three polling units affected.
According to him, INEC resorted to the use of manual methods of accreditation and voting in some polling units in Akwa South, Awka North, Idemili North, Idemili South, and Anambra West local government areas of the state.
‘I signed Orumba North result under duress’
Michael Otu, the collation officer for Orumba north LGA of Anambra State, claimed that he signed the result for the area “under duress, threat and coercion”.
Otu said this while presenting the outcome of the election in the LGA, yesterday.
The collation officer, who said he doesn’t believe in the result, accused some of the INEC officials attached to him of conniving with those who disrupted the process.
“My experience, I must say, was very pathetic. Well, I thank God that I am alive,” he said.
“I want to categorically, unequivocally tell you that there was no election to the best of my knowledge and with the evidence I am going to buttress herein.
“The total acclaimed voters are 93,608 with 18 polling units. I signed this document under duress. I don’t believe in it; it is not my will.
“There was no meeting of the mind within myself, the electoral officer sitting here, and the assistant collation officer who I thought was to work with me.
“I saw that I was surrounded by enemies who brought thugs to kill me.
“I signed the result under duress, threat and coercion. I was so traumatised. I have evidence.
“Even the police who came with her, Comfort Omoregie, saw that I was under duress. They surrounded me the whole night after I was tear-gassed.
“I almost collapsed and as a BP patient, since 1 o’clock till now, I have not eaten, I have not drank water.
“After the tear-gassing, they broke and smuggled her into the toilet and locked me. I remained with the tear-gas until the police people broke the place and smuggled her and ran to her car.
“While I ran with her thinking I will be secured, the police people cocked guns and they stopped me.”
However, Omoregie denied the allegations, and accused Otu of being inexperienced.
“If you observe this man for 30 minutes, you will know that he is not composed. He has never had an experience on how to collate result,” she said.
After presentation by the officials, they were asked to leave after which Florence Obi, returning officer for the state, said the commission will hold a meeting with party agents on the outcome of election in the LGA.
41 result sheets were carted away, says collation officer
Also, Gabriel Othong, the collation officer for Idemili South LGA, said 41 result sheets for some polling units were carted away.
Othong disclosed this while submitting results for the area, in Awka, yesterday.
He said the result sheets of the affected areas were taken away by the supervisory presiding officer (SPO) posted to the area.
He also said there was no election in Oba Ward 1, Oba Ward 11 and Akukwu Ward, all in Idemili South LGA.
“One of the SPOs carted 41 result sheets out of the 42 result sheets meant for the 89 polling units in the affected wards,” NAN quoted him as saying.
“Over 40,000 voters were not able to vote in the affected areas due to the development.”
The collation officer added that election officials were not deployed to some of the polling units due to shooting in some areas.
According to NAN, Ebere Obiakor, the agent for the APC said there was election in the affected areas but the results were not collated.
But Alex Obiogbolu, the collation agent for the PDP and Victor Umeh of the APGA, countered Obiakor’s statement, saying there was no election in any of the affected places.
Police commend Anambra residents on peaceful poll
Meantime, Echeng Echeng, the Anambra Commissioner of Police has commended residents of the state for the peaceful conduct of Saturday’s governorship election.
Echeng said this when he spoke with the NAN in Awka on Sunday.
“It is on record that we have witnessed one of the most peaceful elections in recent times in the country.
“I can beat my chest on that,” he said.
Echeng said that the police did not witness security breach during the election across the state.
“The election was peaceful and we had no incident of violence, ballot snatching or fighting in any polling unit in the state. The election in terms of security was marvelous,” he said.
Echeng attributed the success of the election to team work by security agencies in the state.
“We synergised with sister security agencies and made sure it was incident free, we held meetings over a long period of time preparing for the election and it paid off,” he said.
Echeng said that the peaceful conduct of the election had proven that Anambra was one of the most peaceful states in the country.
Yiaga commends voters’ enthusiasm, resilience
Also, an election observer, Yiaga Africa, commended voters over their enthusiasm and resilience by coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise despite security concerns.
This was part of Yiaga Africa’s ‘Situation Statement on 2021 Anambra Gubernatorial Election’ signed by Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, and Board Member, Yiaga Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu.
The statement reads in part, “Yiaga Africa commends the people of Anambra for the enthusiasm and resilience demonstrated with the turnout for the elections.
INEC owes the people of Anambra a duty to take necessary steps to ensure registered voters are not disenfranchised on the basis of technological failures or logistics challenges.
“Yiaga Africa urges INEC to provide periodic updates on the status of elections in polling units where the BVAS consistently malfunctioned or where elections did not hold.
“Yiaga Africa lauds the professionalism exhibited by security agencies since the commencement of polls. Yiaga Africa reiterates its call to security agencies to respect human rights and maintain non-partisan dispositions throughout the results collation process.
“Yiaga Africa further calls on the security agencies to investigate reports of hijack of election materials and prosecute the culprits.”
However, according to the statement the commencement of polls, availability of election materials and critical incidents may impact the quality of the election as verified reports received from 229 of 248 sampled polling units as at 4pm on Election Day of November 6, which in addition, 66 critical incident reports were received and processed as at 4:00pm. “These incidents could potentially undermine the integrity of the election if unaddressed.”
According to the statement preliminary findings indicated delayed opening of polling units: Yiaga Africa WTV observed the late arrival of polling officials and materials at polling units across the State.
By 7:30 am, polling officials were present in only 17% of polling units. The delays were occasioned by poor logistics management.
Yiaga Africa anticipated these challenges based on our pre-election observation; Late start of Polls: As expected, the late arrival of polling officials delayed the commencement of accreditation and voting across several polling units.
Reports from the WTV observes revealed that by 9:30 am only 28% of polling units commenced accreditation and voting; Deployment of Polling Officials: Yiaga Africa WTV observed that an average of 2 polling officials were deployed in those polling units where INEC officials and materials arrived.
This is lower than the required number of four polling officials per polling unit. At least one female polling official was present in the polling units.
‘’Yiaga Africa WTV observed the deployment of the BVAS to the polling units. However, Yiaga Africa received reports of the BVAS failure to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and photos even where voter details were confirmed on the voter register
‘’Based on verified reports from Yiaga Africa observers, 19% of polling units failed to open by 12noon. In other words, INEC officials didn’t deploy to those polling units.
“These incidents are mostly concentrated in Anambra South Senatorial District (23.5%), Anambra Central (17%), and Anambra North Senatorial districts (13%).
“Yiaga Africa is concerned that the non-opening of these polling stations disenfranchised registered voters in those polling units.’’