Amid Broad Celebrations In Douglas House, Election Observers Call For Imo Polls’ Cancellation
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Oguwike Nwachuku, says the troubled Eastern Nigeria state has been agog with celebrations since the re-election of his principal in the widely condemned off-cycle governorship election of Saturday in the state.
But, accredited election observers of Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) are calling for the total cancellation of the Imo governorship election.
A cross section of the observers led by the Director of Operations of She for She Initiative for Women and Girl Child, Kenneth Umez, made this demand while speaking in Owerri, the state capital, on the controversies surrounding the election.
Among the local government areas where they allegedly saw “massive irregularities” and the election did not hold, but electoral materials were hijacked as well as issues of over voting, vote buying and physical assault, include Okigwe, Orsu, Orlu, Ehime Mbano, Ikeduru, Oru East, Oru West, Owerri West, Ideato North, Ideato South and others.
“That the election was marred by irregularities characterised by vote buying and physical attacks on persons who were out to exercise their franchise. That the Independent National Electoral Commission need to address the people of Imo and generality of Nigerians as to why voting was carried out in many polling units without the use of the BVAS meant for accreditation of voters.
“In several instances, security agencies were complicit as observed and shown in several viral videos where they compromised their duties of ensuring credible elections. By that they aided and abetted the massive rigging as witnessed in the Imo election.
“In one instance, a voter was attacked in an attempt to expose open day vote buying with cash. That INEC is hereby urged to provide answers as to why Elections did not hold in many PU’s in this instance, we observed that in 9 of the polling units there were no election in Orsu Local Government Area
“That INEC may have exhibited flaws in many areas, one of which is outright relocation without notice to voters. In Orsu LGA, voters were not informed of INEC’s plan to conduct cluster elections, hence many voters were disenfranchised. The question INEC must answer is who are those that voted in Orsu? Are they from Orsu or strangers?
“That in Okigwe LGA we observed that no result sheet was delivered to polling centres in all the eleven wards in Okigwe LGA. We also observed that elections did not occur in Eight polling units in the same election. The INEC and police authorities in Okigwe may have to explain where the collation for Okigwe LGA was done.
“We also witnessed that Ehime Mbano, Ikeduru, Ideato North, among others witnessed desperate ballot box snatching as ball boxes were snatched and delivered to the fortresses of political party actors in the area.”
“That other areas observed without election are Oru-East LGA, Ideato-North, Ikeduru, Oru West and Owerri West LGA. We also observed that Ward Collation was not done in the wards as promised by INEC before the election especially in Okigwe Zone , Orlu zone and in almost all parts of the state.
“Specifically, In Emekuku ward 1, the INEC ward collation officer disappeared from the Emekuku High School collation center. Some security agents appeared from nowhere, shooting into the air, tear gassed the environment and whisked away the INEC staff and made away with the results.
“That we notice with utmost dismay as to why there was upload of results from EC8A from various polling units where Election did not hold yet it was seen on the IREV. In over 2000 polling units results as uploaded and seen in the IREV, the total number of votes as allocated to candidates were higher than the actual number of accredited voters, which in all totality demerits the integrity of the Imo Governorship Elections. We, therefore, call for total cancelation of the November 11, 2023 Imo governorship election”, the observers say.
The other observer groups include New Dawn for Development Initiatives, International Women and Youth Revival Initiative, Global Hope and Justice for the Less Privileged, Citizens Right for Peace and Good Leadership Initiative, Centre for Child Care and Youth Development, Women with Disabilities of Nigeria Support Foundation as well as Women and Youth Empowerment for Global Change Initiative.
However, Nwachuku, in a state says workers in Imo trouped out in their numbers to celebrate the re-election of Governor Uzodimma, and that members of the state Elders Council and the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) equally stormed the Government House, Owerri, to celebrate with Governor Uzodimma on his victory at the polls and to assure him that they are solidly behind him on his electoral victory.
According to statement, the civil servants, led by the Head of Service, Raymond Ucheoma, and his Permanent Secretaries, turned out in their numbers, danced and prayed to God for granting their requests to have Uzodimma re-elected because of what he has done for the workers in particular and the state in general.
Members of the elders council were led by their Chairman, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, while the politicians under the umbrella of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) were led by Ichie Livi Ekeh of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
The IPAC members, according to Nwachuku, called on their candidates who took part in the governorship election in the state and lost to forget about any form of litigation and support the governor, saying that Governor Uzodimma’s victory was not only overwhelming, but that the process that gave him victory was largely free, fair and credible.
Among them were the five governorship candidates – Dr. Iwuanyanwu Isaac (Booth Party), Edoziem Clinton Chibuike ( Allied People’s Party), Isiodu Uchechukwu (PRP), Prince Andy Anyadike( Zenith Labour Party) and Dr. Lawrence Cole Okwara (NRM) – who congratulated Governor Uzodimma on his re-election.
Other IPAC Parties in attendance were the All Progressives Grand Alliance ( APGA) and Action Alliance (AA).They described his re-election and victory as well deserving and promised to mobilise the other governorship contestants to ensure they are on the same page on the governor’s victory and the need for them not to waste their resources on needless contestation in court.
Eze Ilomuanya in his address said they came to congratulate the governor on his re-election victory and to thank Imo people, security agencies and even the governorship candidates in particular for accepting the result and quickly congratulating the winner.
Ilomuanya called on his fellow elders to continue to make sacrifices that will ensure peace and harmonious coexistence in Imo, and implored the governor to strive and improve on the achievements he recorded in his first tenure in office.
“Some of the Imo elders who came to congratulate the governor include Engr. E. C Iwuanyanwu, Chief Greg Mbadiwe, Justice Benjamin Njemanze, Prof Maurice Iwu, HRH Eze Oliver Ohanweh, Princess Gloria Akobundu, Sen. Chris Anyanwu, Rt Hon. Maxwell Duru, among others”, Nwachuku says.
Explaining the reason the civil servants came to congratulate the governor, Ucheoma said his re-election was not just free, fair and credible, but that the winning indicates how much the Imo civil servants in particular and the people of Imo at large love Uzodimma.
Ucheoma recalled the good things the governor has done for the Imo civil servants and said his re-election means a lot to them because Uzodimma has now been repositioned to do more for them and the state.
The civil servants proceeded to present a gift of an art impression of the governor, and a congratulatory cake which Governor Uzodimma cut with his deputy governor- elect, Lady Chinyere Ekomaru, key civil servants and some top government officials.
Responding, Governor Uzodimma assured the Imo workers that the loyalty they have shown that culminated in the reform in the civil service, increase in the emoluments, constant payment of salaries, including the 13th month, payment of minimum wage and recently, increase in their minimum wage, are pointers to better things to happen to them.
He urged them to remain committed to their duty as his plan is to make Imo civil servants the envy of other workers in Imo and elsewhere.
To the IPAC members, Uzodimma said in every contest there is bound to be a winner and a loser, but that it is gratifying to note that IPAC members have shown that in the just concluded governorship election in Imo State, there are no bad losers.
He thanked them for coming to identify with his victory at the polls and assured them that everyone has a role to play in making Imo the State of our collective dream.
Addressing the elders, the elated governor assured them that the confidence reposed in him by the re-election will not be betrayed and that the renewed mandate is a challenge to him to do more for the people. He thanked the elders and also congratulated them on his victory on behalf of the government and people of Imo.
“The governor said their sacrifices and contributions, as well as their ideas helped to reduce political tension with the concept of the Charter of Equity. He said that he was not surprised over his victory because Imo elders as well as stakeholders took a decision that went beyond political and ethnic inclination.
“The governor recalled that the Charter of Equity was a proactive measure to remove acrimony and tension that had enveloped Imo politics in the past, it was a decision the elders took in good faith, insisting that he was not just convinced but that he bought into the idea.
“He assured the elders that his successor will be produced by the Charter of Equity. Governor Uzodimma informed that the journey to a new Imo has started, saying that despite every distraction in his first tenure he was able to achieve results which helped and encouraged Imo people to re-elect him.
“He appealed to the elders to go home and relax as he will get it right. Governor Uzodimma said he will use the renewed mandate judiciously, with the fear of God and will not allow mischief makers to derail the good programmes and policies of the 3R administration.
“The governor who appealed to the elders to always guide their utterances, said that the Imo citizens will always refer to what they said and go by that, reassuring them that the next governor will not come from the Orlu zone.
“On the workers strike, the governor informed the elders that it is on record that Imo workers are not owed a dime as salaries, noting that despite all odds he was able to clear the backlog of judges’ salaries he met on assumption of office in 2020.
“He said if at all some workers are being owed, it may not be up to 2% and it is because there are discrepancies in their records or they are fraudulent in their payroll records.The governor said that having achieved automation of salaries and pension his government is now embarking upon installation of clock-in and clock-out system to check truancy in workplace and to fish out some workers who get their regular alerts when they don’t even come to office”, Nwachuku said.
On the problem of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, the governor regretted any assault on him but condemned in its entirety the way and manner the President ignored his root and decided to besiege the state as though there are no authorities or government in Imo.
He said that the entire scenario is regrettable and told the elders that as governor he will not succumb to intimidation of any kind.
Lady Ekomaru, Deputy Speaker, Amara Iwuanyanwu, Majority Leader, Dele Onyemechi, Chief Whip, Chigozie Nwaneri, Secretary to Government of Imo State, Chief Cosmos Iwu, Chief of Staff, Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice COC Akaolisa, Commissioners, other political appointees and Sir Chukwuma Ekomaru attended and witnessed all the events.
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