. Don’t set state on fire, declare Otti winner – Rights groups
By Steve Oko
Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to quickly declare the results of Abia State governorship election held on Saturday to avoid bloodbath in the state.
Similarly, Abia State human rights and pro- democracy groups have called on the INEC to save the state from avoidable crisis by resolving the logjam over the March 18 governorship election.
NBA Chairman, Umuahia branch, Jasper Ejimofor who made the call during a press conference in Umuahia, said that available evidence from INEC indicated that the Labour Party candidate, Dr Alex Otti, won the election, hence, he urged the electoral commission to declare him winner without further delays.
Ejimofor who read from a prepared text said:”We have noted with sadness, the controversy surrounding the 18th March 2023 Abia Governorship election and wish to state as follows.
” As a professional body desirous of ensuring justice, unity, peace and stability of the State, we cannot stand aloof at this point in time, especially when it is obvious that there are moves to trample on the democratic rights of Abians and prevent them from having the person they have unanimously voted for as their go up.
“The overwhelming evidence emanating from INEC indicates that the Labour Party Governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti has won the governorship election with a very wider margin.
” Since INEC has already declared 16 LGAs and The LP candidate is leading with over 90,000 votes, and the remaining LGA of Obingwa has less than 27,000 accredited voters as captured in INEC’S data, there are no justifiable reasons why INEC should continue to delay the declaration of Otti as the winner of the election.
“That the delay in declaring the true winner of the election is causing unnecessary tension in the stat, and this tension could snowball into serious crisis and breakdown of law and order.
“We therefore enjoin INEC to declare Alex Otti of Labour Party as the winner of the Governorship election to save the state the avoidable disaster that is looming.
“We also call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the INEC National Chairman, the National Body of NBA, NUJ, Civil Society groups, Heads of Security Agencies and other respected citizens and institutions to entertain and prevent the bloodbath this could lead to.”
Similarly, the Rights groups in a press statement, noted with dismay that INEC State Returning Officer, Resident Electoral Commissioner and other actors in the commission “are being pressured to admit the bloated results from Obingwa LGA of Abia state”.
The statement was jointly signed by the State Coordinator Congress of Civil Society Groups Abia Chapter, Comrade Damian Ogudike; President, Abia Stakeholders Forum (ASF),
Comrade Nwogu Chukwudi; and the Convener, Abia civil society network on Equity & Justice(ACSNEJ), Comrade Nanna Nwafor.
According to the Rights Groups “incontrovertible evidence from the outcome of the polls has shown that the majority of the people of Abia State spoke in loud voices with their votes on whom they want to represent them in government starting from the Presidential/ National Assembly polls till last Saturday when they re-echoed their stance once more by ensuring they vote credible persons in House of Assembly and in various local government results for the governorship elections.”
They called on INEC “to resist any form of pressure or inducement in accepting the evidently flawed results procured from a particular Local Government Area”.
” INEC should save the commission and its agents from public odium and disgrace with its attendant consequences which may literally set Abia State on fire”, the statement said.
Continuing it said: “Tension is building up already across different parts of the state by the restive youths who are not taking chances these days in allowing their mandate to be stolen by any political actor or parties.
“The desperation to take power by hook or crook being exhibited by some forces leaves much to be desired while those who read the signs of the present times don’t need any prophet or seer to tell them that things have changed.
“It is our unshaken position that input legitimacy should not be toyed with at any time in the democratic process as the process through which a public official emerges into public office is very much vital as to also what the public person does in office after getting power.
“Subverting the peoples’ will in a brazen manner and resort to the provocative slogan “If not satisfied, go to court” will not be accepted anymore in Abia State.
” The people deserve the kind of a leader they gave their consent to, through the democratic process of voting and no more shall they be deprived of this their guaranteed democratic rights.
“To do the contrary poses serious danger to the society and we implore INEC and other desperate politicians to avoid setting Abia state on fire by their actions or inactions. Let the outcome of the final result be a reflection of the wish of the electorates who braved all odds to come out and exercise their franchise” the right group stated.”
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