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Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party on Sunday cried foul as Governor Hope Uzodimma, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, was declared winner of Saturday’s governorship poll in Imo State by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The electoral body affirmed Uzodimma’s re-election, having won in all the 27 local government areas of the state.
The governor clinched a second term in office after scoring a total of 540,008 votes, the commission stated.
In Kogi, the candidate of the APC, Usman Ododo, was declared the winner of the election with 446,237 votes.
Announcing the result late Sunday night, the state Returning Officer, Johnson Urama, said Ododo was followed by the Social Democratic Party candidate, Muri Ajaka, who scored 259,052 votes.
Dino Melaye of the PDP garnered 46,362 votes; Leke Bejide of the African Democratic Party, 21,891; and Adejo Okeme of the LP 567.
The total number of registered voters was 1,932,474, and accredited voters numbered 794,500.
The commission said 9,601 votes were rejected out of the 791,890 total votes cast.
In Bayelsa State, the INEC said the results from Brass and Southern Ijaw local government Areas of Bayelsa would be announced on Monday (today).
Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity INEC office, Yenagoa, Wilfred Ifogah, announced to state party agents, election observers and journalists on Sunday that the collation of results would continue today.
Announcing Uzodimma’s victory, the Imo State Returning Officer for the election, Abayomi Fasina, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oye, Ekiti State, disclosed that Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP got 71,503 votes while the Labour Party candidate, Athan Aconu, garnered 64,081 votes.
The PDP and LP called for a total poll cancellation after the declaration.
They alleged that the security agents connived with INEC staff to allow members of the APC to rig the election.
Addressing journalists at a press conference, Anyanwu, while demanding the nullification of the election, said INEC and the security agents failed in their constitutional responsibility to deliver a credible election to the people of the state.
Instead, he alleged that the security agents protected INEC staff “as the APC members rewrote results.’’
Anyanwu said he and his party, the PDP, would not accept anything other than total cancellation of the poll.
The LP candidate, Achonu, vowed to seek redress at the election tribunal.
Addressing journalists at his Umulomo country home in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state on Sunday, he alleged that the election was “marred by irregularities, including vote-buying and physical assaults of LP agents, and thus deserving of outright cancellation.”
He further alleged that voting in many locations was done without the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System accreditation, contrary to the assurances by INEC before the election.
Achonu also alleged compromise on the part of the security personnel, adding that “recorded evidence abound such as that of a police officer who voters beat for attempting to snatch a ballot box.”
He commended the LP supporters for their steadfastness in the face of provocation and assured them that they would get justice at the courts.
He stated, “Our democracy was raped in the full glare of security personnel, whose salaries we pay from our commonwealth.
“Collation was suddenly moved from the ward to LG centres, and only APC agents were allowed to enter, while agents of other parties were locked out.
“And to you, my supporters, thank you for your doggedness and steadfastness; you fought hard, and I am proud of you all.
“I have not lost hope in the judiciary; there are so many men of integrity therein, and we shall reclaim our mandate.”
He condemned the assault and detention of the LP Chairman in the state, Callistus Ihejiagwa, at the state collation centre and called for the immediate arrest of those who manhandled him.
“My party chairman was beaten up at the collation centre, as is evident in a widely circulated video. And instead of arresting those who beat him, the police arrested and detained him.
“Let’s save the drift into anarchy; let’s save our country and her democracy. There was no election yesterday, and we call on the INEC Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, to cancel the purported results,“ Achonu said.
Also, the deputy governorship candidate of the LP, Tony Nwulu, said that the security agents allegedly provided security to the INEC staff and APC members to subvert the will of the people of the state.
Speaking to journalists on Saturday night, he claimed that electoral materials had been diverted to all the LG secretariats “where rewriting of the election results were allegedly ongoing.’’
Nwulu claimed, ‘’There was no election in Imo State on Saturday. What happened was the electoral materials’ diversion to the people’s homes and the LGA council headquarters. In all this, the police, army, and DSS provided security to the actors.
“They came with vast sums of money to the polling units for votes buying, but the Imo people rejected them. They now resorted to snatching electoral materials and diverting them to the homes of individuals and the LG headquarters, where they are currently rewriting the results.
“In all these things, the police, army, and DSS are providing security to the APC members and staff of INEC in these disgraceful acts. We have all the records. We are informing Nigerians that there was no election in Imo state on Saturday.
“The position of our party and my principal, Athan Achonu, the governorship candidate of the party in Imo state, is that this sham called election be cancelled outright.”
The LP chairman in the state, Callistus Ihejiagwa, said that the process that gave victory to the governor needed to be revised and fraught with electoral irregularities.
He said that from the actual results, Achonu won the election, describing the poll as “a daylight robbery and a rape of democracy.’’
The LP chair alleged that elections didn’t take place in most places in Orsu, Orlu, Ideato North, Okigwe, Oguta, Owerri municipal, “yet INEC in collaboration with APC and security agents wrote the results.’’
He also faulted the returning officer for failing to address his petition before collating the results and returned Uzodimma as the election winner.
Ihejiagwa said, “What happened in Imo state on Saturday was a sham. It was shameful how the security agents provided INEC staff and APC members the protection to rig the election.
“From our records, our candidate, Achonu, won the election. We will challenge Hope Uzodimma’s announcement as the election winner in court. If anybody keeps quiet, the Labour Party and our candidate won’t. We won the election. We will retrieve our mandate in court.”
Basking in the euphoria of his victory, Governor Uzodimma urged his opponents to join him in moving the state forward.
Uzodimma, who spoke in Owerri, the state capital, on Sunday, shortly after being declared the poll’s winner, said that his next four years in office would hugely benefit the state.
The governor expressed gratitude to the state’s people, the security agents and the INEC staff for their roles in ensuring a peaceful election in the state.
He specifically thanked President Bola Tinubu for supporting his re-election bid.
Uzodimma said, “I am humbled and honoured by your overwhelming support in yesterday’s election. Your trust in me to continue leading our dear State is inspiring and deeply appreciated.
“Together, we have achieved a resounding victory, and I am committed to delivering on the promises made during our campaign.
“As we embark on the Next Level of Shared Prosperity, rest assured that your interests will remain at the forefront of my administration.
“I extend a hand to my fellow contenders from other parties, urging them to join me in a united effort to build and uplift our only dear State. In the spirit of inclusivity, we will operate a government that transcends political differences for the benefit of all.’’
Meanwhile, a female youth corps member who served as an ad hoc worker in Mbaitolu LG was reported missing, and the BVAS and results in her possession had not been recovered.
While presenting his result, the local government collation officer, Bolaji Olaleye said the youth corps member did not respond to phone calls, heightening fear that something terrible might have happened to her.
However, The PUNCH called a number given by Olaleye, but a female who answered terminated the call without responding to questions.
Olaleye told The PUNCH, “I don’t know what happened to the female corps member, but we couldn’t locate the BVAS and results sheet in her possession, which led to the cancellation of the election in ward three polling units.”
But the Kogi State chapter of the SDP called for the cancellation of the results in Okene, Okehi, Ogori Magongo, Adavi, and Ajaokuta LGs, as well as in some parts of Lokoja alleging corrupt practices, vote-buying and over-voting.
The party’s collation agent, David Edibu, submitted a petition to the State Returning Officer, Johnson Urame, who assured him the petition would be reviewed.
Corroborating Edibu, the PDP agent at the collation centre, Abubakar Mahmood, submitted that the incidences of malpractices in the said LGA were alarming.
Similarly, the PDP standard bearer in Kogi State, Dino Melaye, has called on the electoral commission to cancel the off-cycle election in the state.
Melaye, who spoke at a press conference on Sunday in Lokoja, the state capital, alleged that result sheets were manipulated before the commencement of the accreditation of voters on Saturday.
“Yesterday, there was no election in the five local governments of the central senatorial district in Kogi state. In the end, surprisingly, accreditation was done manually, the BVAS was not used,” Melaye said.
However, the APC has called on INEC to disregard calls for the cancellation of the election and should instead protect the integrity of the votes in the state.
APC Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, said the party’s candidate, Ododo, was already “coasting to a spectacular victory.”
In a statement on Sunday, Morka said the announced and uploaded results so far showed Ododo “maintaining a landslide lead in Kogi West and Central, with a competitive showing in Kogi East.”
“We are keenly aware of intense pressure, including violent threats on INEC staff, by agents and supporters of trailing opposition parties aimed at unduly influencing or disrupting ongoing collation of results in the state.
“We urge INEC to stand fast in the discharge of its constitutional duty to deliver free, fair and credible election in the state and ensure that the freely exercised will of the Kogi electorate prevails,’’ the party spokesman stated in a statement.
In Bayelsa, hundreds of PDP supporters staged a protest in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Sunday, demanding that the results of the election conducted in Nembe-Bassambiri, Nembe LG, should not be brought to the collation centre.
The results indicated that the PDP candidate, Governor Douye Diri, had polled 137,909, the APC candidate, Timipre Sylva, had 73,503 and LP candidate, Udengs Eradiri, scored 703.
But the PDP supporters stormed the INEC office to protest elections in the APC strongholds, particularly the Nembe LG, where Sylva got 22,248 votes.
But the APC agent at the collation centre in Yenagoa, Dennis Otioto defended the party’s victory, adding Sylva’s agents Ofoni, and Kolokuma/Opokuma were chased away.
The PDP supporters alleged that the election did not take place in Nembe-Bassambiri and that the results from the polling units in the area were concocted.
The protesters marched towards the INEC office on Swali Road but were barred from reaching the office by security agents.
They had converged on the Isaac Boro Peace Park at Ovom on the Mbiama-Yenagoa Road at about 9.30 am before marching towards the gate of the INEC Office along the Swali Market Road.
But as the protesters approached the Swali Road from the Lambert Eradiri Road and moved past the roundabout connecting Mgbi Road, several armed security operatives mounting a checkpoint on the road stopped them from getting close to the junction leading to the INEC office entrance.
The security operatives blocked the road with Armoured Personnel Carriers and several security patrol vans while taking strategic positions around the area.
Speaking in an interview with reporters, the state Commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah, said they embarked on the demonstration because eligible PDP voters in Nembe-Bassambiri were disenfranchised, and this was unacceptable.
He called on INEC and the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Effanga, to reject the results from Nembe-Bassambiri, insisting that voting did not occur in the community.
Emelah said, “We are here to tell the world that election is not violence. Election is a serious responsibility. Everyone that is having electoral rights ought to cast his vote.
“But what is happening in Nembe-Bassambiri is not acceptable because you cannot disenfranchise eligible voters and coerce INEC to do your bid. A level playing ground should be provided to every adult of voting age to cast his or her vote.
“We know that there was no election in Nembe-Bassambiri. So, because of that, we are talking to INEC to discard that result. And if at all, let them revisit the Bassambiri issue and ensure that everybody has the right to vote.”
Also speaking, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Diriyai Dambo, described the incident in Nembe-Bassambiri as “a rape of democracy.’’
He claimed that the party’s supporters who were travelling to Nembe ahead of the governorship polls on November 10 were allegedly subjected to a life-threatening situation.
Dambo said that balloting was not conducted in Nembe-Bassambiri, particularly in constituencies 2 and 9, and that fake results were written and posted on social media.
Dambo, an indigene of Nembe, said, “If what we are here for is allowed to go on, then there will be a massive rape of democracy. We are here because we were disenfranchised in Nembe-Bassambiri, where I am from. Precisely, on the 10th of November, most of our people, with about 58 buses, left Yenagoa to Nembe with escorts.
“When we arrived, the SWAT Team was blocking the entrance to Nembe with other APC acclaimed youths. They said we should come down for a search. One of our boys, identified as Kile, came down, and they manhandled him. He escaped by the whiskers.
‘’After that, they started threatening us, up to the extent that they threw tear gas at us. They said we could not go in, to the extent that most of them were scared for their lives, so they had to leave.’’
In a worrisome development, some INEC officials have been held hostage in the Brass LG.
In a post on its X handle on Sunday, the INEC called on the police and other security operatives to investigate the situation and facilitate the release of the officials.
The post read, “The unfolding situation in Brass Local Government Area. The Commission is closely watching the situation in Brass LG of Bayelsa State, where our officials are held hostage.
“This is detrimental to credible elections. We call on the security agencies to immediately facilitate their release.”
A man identified as George Sibo reportedly died Sunday afternoon in Twon-Brass, the headquarters of the Brass LG, after he was attacked by a mob believed to be APC supporters.
It was learnt that the deceased, a PDP supporter, was attacked at the governorship election collation centre at the council area headquarters when results from some wards in Constituency 2 were being submitted.
Sibo, popularly called “Kobo-Kobo”, was said to be an indigene of Twon-Brass and an aide to a politician from the local government.
A member of the state House of Assembly representing Brass Constituency 1, Daniel Charles, condemned the gruesome killing of the man.
He urged security agents to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the dastardly act immediately.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Asinim Butswat, said he was awaiting the details of the incident from the area commander in Brass LGA.