Otti, groups pressure INEC over Abia poll results
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, on Tuesday, stormed Abuja, saying nobody can stop his victory.
According to him, every attempt allegedly made by the Peoples Democratic Party to manipulate the election in the Isialangwa North and Obingwa Local Government Areas was resisted and hence they resorted to violence.
The Independent National Electoral Commision had announced in Abuja on Monday, that it had suspended the collation of the results for the governorship election in Abia State.
Political thugs on Sunday invaded INEC’s office in the Obingwa Local Government Area in Abia.
According to Otti, who spoke to journalists, the thugs held two INEC collation officers hostage for 36 hours for allegedly refusing to compromise the process.
He said one of them later signed election results under duress to save his life.
Otti said, “I had credible intelligence that the state government was planning to unleash mayhem and I warned the governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and dismantled the plan to rig. Two major LGs were used to attempt to rig. They are Isialangwa North and Obingwa where they unleased their thugs. But the people resisted every attempt made to rig.
“The Obingwa collation centre was under siege by armed men and hoodlums. They descended on the major agent of the Labour Party, Dr George Chimezie. As I speak, he’s in an undisclosed location where he is getting medical attention. They took over the collation centre. The returning officer and others resisted and they held them hostage for 36 hours.
“They wrote 86,000 for Obingwa. The collation officer said she signed under duress for her safety. But the results released for two House of Assembly members in Obingwa, for which PDP was declared winner, were under 27,000.
“In the released results, Labour Party has 172,000, while PDP scored less than 80,000. No matter how they do it, it cannot torpedo our victory. We believe that INEC will do the right thing and they will not change the rules in the middle of the game.
“It is our firm belief that INEC will do the right and ensure that only results based on the BVAS will be announced. The figures released by INEC would be made available.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Umuahia branch, Jasper Ejimofor, has called on INEC to declare Otti as winner of the election.
The NBA chairman, “The delay in declaring the true winner of the election is causing unnecessary tension in the state, and this tension could snowball into serious crisis and breakdown of law and order.
“We, therefore, enjoin INEC to declare Alex Otti of the Labour Party as the winner of the governorship election to save the state from the avoidable disaster that is looming.
Similarly, a group, Ideal-Nigeria, staged a protest in Umuahia on Tuesday against INEC’s decision to halt the collation of results of the election.
The coordinator, Nwokocha Innocent led the group and expressed that the delay in declaration is reducing voters’ confidence in INEC.
Meanwhile, INEC has debunked a report accusing its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, of attempts to distort the governorship election result in Abia State.
A blogsite, had quoted the Returning Officer, Professor Nnenna Oti, for Abia to have said “Yakubu personally called her and gave her directives on guidelines to follow but that on her own she has decided that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.”
Responding, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a statement on Tuesday explained that following the erupted crises, “The INEC Chairman had directed that pending the delivery of the hard copies, the soft copies of the commission’s letter be forwarded immediately to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Enugu State and the Administrative Secretary of Abia State.
“The Returning Officer for Abia State then directed that the content of the letter should be read aloud by the Administrative Secretary in the presence of agents of political parties, observers, the media, and security personnel at the collation centre.”
“This is what is now being mischievously interpreted as a directive to the Returning Officer on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines. There is nothing like that.
“The public should disregard the story as fake news.”