There is palpable tension in Imo State as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared the governorship poll in the state inconclusive.
INEC withheld the results of the state governorship election following reported cases of electoral malpractice in some of the polling stations.
The INEC Returning Officer in the state, Prof. Ibidapo Obe, who announced this while giving a breakdown of the results garnered by the various political parties, said out of 1,761,271 votes recorded for the election, 796,958 accredited voters were recorded and total number of valid votes was 735689 with 22, 850 rejected.
“However, we have various cancellations in several wards and the total number of registered voters in the affected LGA was 144.715, except in Ahiazu, Ideato North, Ideato South and Owerri, municipal,” he said .
With a total of 758,539 votes cast, Prof. Obe gave the performance of the parties in the election as follows: Accord Party 2,179, ACD 741, ACPN 447, AD 742, APA, 2,625, APC 385,671, APGA 28,238, CPP 585, APP 761, ID 123, COWA 248, LP 1,271, NPPP 191, NCP 26, NNPP 151, PDC 851, PDP306,142, PPA 832, PPN 123, SDP 248, UDP 349 AND UPP 2,950.
Prof. Obe, who sued for peace and understanding by the various political parties, said election would be conducted in the affected polling units and wards to determine the winner of the polls soon.
Meanwhile, the PDP has rejected the decision of the INEC to declare the polls inconclusive, arguing that the results collected by the parties agents at wards and local government collation centres indicated that its governorship candidate, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, won the election, having scored the majority of popular votes cast.
A statement by the state’s PDP Chairman, Barrister Nnamdi Anyaehie, stated that despite widespread manipulations, harassment and intimidation during the electoral process, the party still triumphed.
Anyaehie listed verifiable incidents of ballot box snatching by the APC in areas the party’s governorship candidate was leading massively, intimidation, cajoling and threats to reassign INEC officials, reduction of the scores of the party’s candidate in the collated and declared results for Ezinihitte LGA, among other infractions of the APC.
Also, barely 24 hours after INEC declared the results of the Imo State Governorship election inconclusive, the state chapter of the United Progressive Party (UPP) called for the total cancellation of the entire exercise, alleging that the poll was riddled with glaring electoral malpractices.
The party’s governorship candidate, Dr. Osmond Imo Ukanacho, who made the call while briefing newsmen in Owerri, said the party is armed with incontrovertible evidence that results from local governments such as Isu, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and parts of Owerri Municipal were brazenly manipulated, dismissing the 2,950 votes said to have been scored by the party in the election as a sham.
“We cannot accept this figure because it is not even up to the votes we scored in the Ikeduru LGA,” he said.
The UPP flag bearer specifically accused the APC of sharing food and money to voters at the polling stations as inducements to attract their votes.
Ukanacho, who is the founder and CEO of the Osmond Imo Ukanacho Foundation, said although INEC had declared the results inconclusive, his party would not participate in the re-run even as he dismissed insinuations going round that he is in the race to play a spoiler game and to front for a particular governorship candidate.
“I have not met with any official of the APC and there is no way I can front for any of them, because I want a positive change in this state,” he said.
He accused the INEC and the police of complicity in the conduct of the elections, claiming that the military was used “against us and this gave us 895 votes instead of the accurate votes we scored. We want Jega to come here and handle our case for us so that we can have confidence in INEC.”