By Clifford Ndujihe, Chinedu Adonu, Steve Oko & John Alechenu
Anxiety over the release of the results of the governorship elections in Enugu and Abia States continued, yesterday, as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Labour Party, LP, continued to lay claims to victories.
Both parties have continued to mount pressure on the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, to declare the results and announce their candidates as the winner.
They have also laid siege at the INEC office, vowing not to depart until the results were declared.
In Abia State, the story is the same, as both the LP and PDP accused INEC of trying to manipulate the results.
The contention in Abia were votes from Obingwa Local Government Area, but Ferdinand Ekeoma, Media Aide to the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Dr. Alex Otti, has argued that even if the entire accredited voters in the local council were allocated to the candidate of the ruling PDP, Okey Ahiwe, Otti would still win the poll.
Meantime, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, has charged the INEC to expedite action on the release of the results of the governorship elections, held in the two states, as further delay had the potential of calling the credibility of the results to question.
LP supporters besiege INEC office, say Edeoga won
In Enugu, members of the “Obidient Movement,” as well as the supporters of the Labour Party governorship candidate for Enugu State, Chijoke Edeoga, have besieged the premises of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Enugu, insisting that Labour Party won the election.
The irate supporters who had been keeping vigil for two days along the major roads leading to INEC office since security agents barricaded the road, mounted canopies and have stayed put until they reclaim their supposed mandate.
The supporters also pulled resources together and have been eating and drinking since the vigil began.
Speaking to our correspondent on the incident, the Enugu State chairman of LP, Casmir Agbo said that they were there because they didn’t want PDP to manipulate the outcome of the election.
“We are here because of the governorship election that PDP is trying to manipulate. We won convincingly in all the 17 local government areas. We won by more than 11,000 votes. We have seen the results. The only problem is Nkanu East.” Agbo said.
The Director General, DG, of Take Back Enugu For Edeoga Initiative, Nnamdi Anigbo said they would not bulge until they reclaim their mandate.
PDP protesters also occupying INEC office
Similarly, PDP, protesters have vowed to keep occupying Enugu INEC office until Mbah is declared winner.
The protesters, who mounted several canopies with food and drinks at the WAEC Junction just before the state headquarters of INEC, disagreed with the commission on its decision to suspend the announcement of the final results and declaration of Mbah as the winner of the governorship contest.
They also accused the INEC of adopting different rules from the one it used during the national collation of presidential election results, where it ignored complaints from the agents of opposition parties.
Spokesman of the protesters and former member of House of Representatives, Usa Igwesi, who spoke to newsmen, accused INEC of usurping the duties of the Election Petition Tribunals and warned that Enugu State was running out of patience as a result of the continuous withholding of the governorship election results.
He said: “We don’t need any soothsayer to tell us that Peter Mbah won the election. We’re surprised that INEC is still holding this result undeclared. We want to inform them that Enugu State is running out of patience. We are asking them to declare the result and announce Mbah of PDP winner. As long as they keep holding the results, we keep occupying Enugu”.
Announce collated results from 17 LGAs
Meantime, political parties in Enugu State under the auspices of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, have called on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to direct the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, Dr. Chukwuemeka J. Chukwu and the State Returning Officer, Prof. Maduebibisi O. Iwe to as a matter of urgency announce the already collated results of governorship election from the 17 local government areas and declare the winner of the election without further delay.
IPAC which made the call during a press conference in Enugu, yesterday, stated that “any action short of this will be outside the law and could bring anarchy to an already fragile situation,” stressing that “INEC has no power under our laws to review collated results.”
Leaders of the political parties at the press conference were Edwin Ikechukwu Alor of Accord Party and State Chairman of IPAC; Innocent Ezeoha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Deputy Chairman of IPAC; Dr. Afam Ani of APP; Ken Ikeh of APM; Elvis Ugwoke of ZLP who is the Secretary General of IPAC; and Nnaemeka Oko of AAC.
Others were Stella Chukwuma of ADC; Dr. Mrs. Chinyere Madike of ADP; Louis Chiedozie Ugwu of NRM and Magnus Ezea of SDP.
The parties maintained that “the results of the 17 Local Government Areas (LGAs), including those of Nkanu East and Nsukka LGAs, were all collated by the State Returning Officer on March 19, 2023” stating that “by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the only other duty remaining for the State Returning Officer, who is acting on INEC’s behalf is to add up the figures, announce them, and declare the winner in line with Section 65 and 66 of the Electoral Act 2022.”
Even if PDP is allocated all votes from Obingwa, Otti still leads Abia poll —Aide
Ekeoma, Otti’s aide who addressed a press conference yesterday in Umuahia, explained that Otti according to the results declared by INEC from the 16 Local Government Areas is maintaining a comfortable lead with 92,720 votes as he polled 171,747 as against PDP’s 79,477.
He further explained that since only 26,884 voters were captured as accredited voters from Obingwa LGA according to INEC record, Otti would still win the contest even if the entire votes from Obingwa were awarded to the PDP.
Ekeoma said it was strange and imaginary for the PDP to claim to have garnered over 100,000 votes from Obingwa which recorded fewer than 27,000 accredited voters during the polls.
He further explained that the House of Assembly election which held the same day using the same accredited voters did not produce more than 27,000 voters for both state constituencies in Obingwa.
He, therefore, urged INEC to quickly declare Otti winner of the Abia governorship election without any further delay to douse the building tension across the state.
Nothing should happen to Enugu, Abia guber polls result, Intersociety warns INEC
Also yestersay, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, warned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure that nothing roguish happens to the Enugu and Abia States governorship polls results being reviewed by the Commission.
This warning came on the heels of the suspension of the collation of governorship election results in the states due to questionable figures generated at Nkanu East, Nsukka Local Government Areas of Enugu State, and Obingwa, in Abia State.
The Commission called for the suspension to enable it to review the results generated in the aforementioned council areas.
In a statement made available to Vanguard by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the group, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head of Democracy and Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche; and Head, Campaign and Publicity, Chidinma Udegbunam, it commended the Collation Officers in the affected states, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, and Prof. Nnenna Oti, for their uncompromising stance.
It equally urged INEC to determine the actual number of registered and accredited voters in the affected areas to unravel the true state of affairs.
Obi charges INEC to release Abia, Enugu guber polls results
In a statement by the Obi-Datti Media Office, in Abuja, the LP presidential candidate frowned at the continued delay in releasing the results of both elections held on Saturday.“Obi noted that further delay will question the commission’s intent and credibility of the election.“He said: “Having carefully followed the unfolding events relating to the Gubernatorial Elections in the above two states, let me categorically emphasize the imperative of releasing the gubernatorial election results of Abia and Enugu states immediately.
“I am aware that the Independent National Electoral Commission said they are reviewing the Collation of the Results in these two states. However, I would like to urge them to accelerate action on this as their continued delay is questioning INEC’s intent and the credibility of the Election.”
He expressed disappointment that “48 hours” after the elections were conducted, it is disheartening that the commission is yet to resolve whatever issues that are holding back the release of the results.
“The records of the elections from polling units should not be difficult to calculate if the electoral officials are committed to the integrity of the exercise in line with the stipulated guidelines,” he added.
APC kicks, accuses PDP, LP of rigging Abia poll
Meanwhile, the Abia State All Progressives Congress, APC, has described last Saturday’s governorship election in the state as “the worst form of competitive election rigging between PDP and Labour Party.
“The so-called gubernatorial election result announced by INEC neither reflects the actual votes cast nor the wishes of Abians,” Abia APC said in a joint statement by Dr Kingsley Ononogbu, chairman; Chidi Avajah, secretary; and Uche Ogboso, director-general Ikechi Emenike Campaign organization.
Rejecting the results in its entirety, Abia APC said Abians “have been served a concoction of allocated scores laced with shameless shenanigans.”
It said: “The 2023 Governorship Election in Abia is, therefore, nothing but a charade. Both the manipulators and the beneficiaries of this juggling of figures know that the results churned out have no resemblance to the reality on the ground.
“We are also aware that the orchestrated alterations of the poll results and allocation of votes were purposely contrived against our party, All Progressives Congress. The allocation of figures being bandied about says much.
“It is crystal clear that the traducers of Abia APC designed the whole exercise just to humiliate APC in order to diminish its high-octave popularity and acceptability across Abia. Their purpose is just to sustain the contrived fallacy that the party is not firmly rooted in Abia. Otherwise, how on earth can anybody justify that Labour Party will score 27,000 votes in Umuahia North, and APC 7,000 votes? This is a very infantile exercise in vote allocation fixed against APC.
“Another curious example is that in the entire Ugwunagbo Local Government Area, APC was allocated 375 votes, while in Osisioma 500 votes were allocated to APC despite the hard work of the former state chairman who worked tirelessly with others to make our party a household name.”
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