Governor Rochas Okorocha has accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Imo State, Professor Francis Ezeonu, of working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last governorship elections in the state.
He noted that by the REC’s action, he had succeeded in wrecking democracy in the state.
The governor who disclosed this when thousands of youths came to the Government House on Wednesday protesting against the declaration of the PDP governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, as the governor-elect, noted that the REC had acted illegally by ignoring the provision of the constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate to have 25 per cent in 2/3 of the local governments in the state.
He also wondered why the REC should accept what he described as “outrageous figures” from the three local governments of Mbaise including Aboh Mbaise where the PDP candidate had 64,219 votes.
Governor Okorocha added that the figures from the three LGAs in Mbaise constituted 50 percent of the total votes got by the PDP candidate in Imo’s 27 LGAs.
The governor maintained that Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of Action Alliance (AA), won the election and had the required spread of 25 per cent in 21 out of the 27 LGAs in the state, accusing the REC of working to cause chaos among the people.
He also accused the REC of being a willing tool in the hands of his political detractors, adding that for him to have ignored the constitutional provision for the announcement of the winner of the governorship election only explained his desperation to announce the PDP candidate as the winner.
“I say so because coming by the actual calculation, the person that won that election is Ugwumba Uche Nwosu. Uche Nwosu won the election landslide; if you remove the manipulated results from Mbaise, Uche Nwosu won with over 50,000 votes; if you cannot declare him a winner because you have someone already, then they should go for a rerun because you cannot change the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because you want to favour a candidate,” Governor Okorocha said.
“In the course of this manipulation, we all observed that the REC decided not to use the collation officers from Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), which he disbanded for reasons he gave that they have met with politicians. Again, he brought some people whom he introduced from the University of Agriculture Umudike. They arrived just a night before the election date and we thought we had got the collation officers. Again, those ones were disbanded on the same reason that they had met with politicians. I wonder how this is possible having arrived in the state beyond Midnight on the election eve.
He added, “Now, the REC went to his own University in Awka to bring in collation officers. We believed him not knowing that he brought people he has been training for a hatched job for some weeks now in Anambra State to come and carry out this injustice in Imo State.
“These men arrived with heavy security from Anambra and went straight to the various local governments. We never knew that these were relatives of the PDP candidates and from the same local government. They were relatives of the PDP candidate who were already briefed on what to do. This explains the over voting witnessed in Mbaise. Out of the 270,000 votes that Ihedioha scored, 50 per cent of it or over 130,000 all came from just three local governments of Mbaise,” he stated.
“As far as I am concerned, and we still maintain that REC has wrecked democracy in Imo State. Unfortunately for them, they were not smart enough to know that Section 179 requires you to have a spread at least in 2/3 in the local governments before you can be declared a winner. They ended up with only nine local governments instead of the 18 required by law. The returning officer was advised by all the senior staff of INEC against declaring a winner without looking at the constitution. But the man in a hurry decided to announce the result against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
“This is wrong; in doing so, the returning officer didn’t even consider the results canceled; the total votes canceled in the different polling booths were enough to declare the election inconclusive as the difference between the PDP and AA would have called for a supplementary election. The speed with which he announced the result tells you that the man is part of the game. This again is unacceptable to all of us,” he said.
On his certificate of return, the governor said: “In my own case, my certificate has not been issued and I wonder why INEC will withhold it for a frivolous reason, without hearing from me. I am not a violent person and those who know me know that. This is why we have peace in Imo State.
“He could not have done that under duress with the watchful eyes of the police, DSS and party agents. I am not unmindful of the facts that those who are fighting me from Abuja are anxious to see me removed as a senator. I urge INEC to do the right thing immediately by releasing my certificate.
“In the case of Emenike who contested for Okigwe zone senatorial election, while the election was going on there, the zonal returning officer somewhere declared a candidate winner while the people were still voting at their various polling booths. It looked like a tale when I got wind of the situation. Somebody just declared a result with only the zonal result sheets without the result sheets from the booths and ward levels. When results from the booths and wards were compiled, the winner of the election was Emenike of the AA party,
“I advised the REC not to wreck the future and with similar speed, he should declare Emenike winner of that election. We will not allow him to wreck Imo and return to Anambra; that will not be accepted. He should maintain peace and not cause agitations in the state.
“I quite agree that this is enough provocation to trigger chaos but I appeal to all of you to maintain the peace and never behave otherwise. Just be rest assured that we have a listening president who does not support evil.
“It is obvious that this fight is targeted against me by some of those who have decided to fight me from Abuja. I am ready to take this fight as much as I can but don’t transfer this aggression you have against me to anybody associated with me. That would not be acceptable. Allow the young men who won the elections to be so declared,” he added.
The governor further stated: “Let me tell every Nigerian that I fight no one and no one should fight me. If anyone fights me, he will be the loser at the end of it all.
“My INEC certificate cannot be touched and seized. Doing so is belittling democracy in Nigeria. It is only the tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared. INEC cannot seize my certificate by a mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”
The leader of the youths, Comrade Ezenna Okoro said: “We are here to express our dissatisfaction with the manner INEC conducted its election in the state.
“Particularly, we youths from Okigwe zone demand that Uche Nwosu is declared governor and Emenike be returned as senator-elect because he won the election based on results got from the booths and wards.
“INEC should not provoke us; we are giving them 24 hours to reverse the results of the elections of Imo North senatorial zone won by Emenike and as a matter of fact, give us a date for the re-run between Uche Nwosu and the PDP candidate having failed to make up the constitutional requirement.”