Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Ebonyi State who contested for Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency under the platform of the party, Chinedu Ogah, is an unhappy man.
He is sad because he alleged that he was rigged out in the last presidential/National Assembly election held on February 23.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he narrated the alleged injustices meted out against him even as he accused INEC in Ebonyi State of helping to rig him out. Excerpts:
You contested for Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but your opponent in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was announced the winner? Are you satisfied with the way the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted that election?
I am not satisfied because I won that election. You heard how the election went. On the process of declaring me a winner, the REC sent people and they came and collected the whole material in Ezza South and moved to the headquarters and changed the result there and then sent them back there to go and declare who they have collected money from. So, it is unacceptable to me. What I am saying is that INEC should declare me the winner because I won that election. In Ikwo, I got 45,000 votes while PDP got 13,945 votes and they came down to scrutinize it. The REC called the EO (Electoral Officer) and all the Collation Officers and gave the instruction that they must scrutinize every Polling Unit to the card reader. They did that in Ikwo and it came down to 21,558 votes. And when he found out that I was winning, he quickly sent people and carried the whole material to the INEC (office) and chased all the EOs and Collation Officers out and changed the result in Ezza South and the following morning, he now sent them to go and declare the PDP candidate winner. INEC is supposed to be transparent and open. It is not supposed to be biased to be working with one group.
Was it why you stormed the INEC headquarters in Abakaliki on the final day of collation of presidential results?
Yes! I went there to complain because we wrote to the Collation Officer according to the electoral guideline and they were attending to our petition by our agent and when the REC found out that it was not in support of what he wanted, he decided to come and hijack the material to Abakaliki. The question is this. If he does not have ulterior motive, why should he circulate a text message that the card readers should be used in Ikwo and after then he did not implement the card reader in Ezza South? Why should he when we have a great number of police, Civil Defence, DSS and army in Ezza South, he decided to come and carry the material, even when there was no security threat, to Abakaliki and rewrote the result?
We learnt that there was violence in a location in Ikwo where two persons were reportedly shot dead by thugs and some others sustained injuries. Has it any connection with what happened?
(Cuts in) I am asking you, violence where? There was no any place we had violence in Ikwo. Throughout the election, there was no place we recorded violence. Ask the police and the observers. There was no place violence took place.
I mean on the eve of the election.
On the eve of the election? I don’t know. I am just hearing that in a part of Ndegu Amagu that they have their communal problem which everybody knows that is in that area they always have their problem of land dispute. It is all about land dispute. There was election. The corps members went there and conducted the election in various polling units. The results were collated. So, if anybody says that there was eruption of violence there, it is not true. There was no violence in that area and that ward is where many prominent men (in Ikwo) came from. They went home to vote and there was nothing like violence in those areas.
In Abakaliki here, there was this insinuation that some stakeholders in Ikwo teamed up against you because some of them believe that if you emerge victorious, you will retire all of them politically. What would you make of that?
Are they God? It is all about what someone does for the people. It is all about who listens to the voice of the people. I am not against anybody. Whosoever claims to be against me, is against the wish of the people because none of them as they are individually will say that they have not received kind help from Chinedu Ogah. It is all about the people and not about me. It is about presenting yourself before the masses; telling the masses what you should do and how you should do it. If anybody is ganging up against Chinedu Ogah, he is on his own. I am not against them, but the right thing must be done irrespective of what they are planning to do.
Given the situation you just complained of, what do you want INEC to do in your case?
The INEC should declare me as the winner of the election and I must reclaim my mandate. No doubt about it. If you go round everywhere you will see that nothing is going on because the masses came out en masse to vote for me and to vote for the APC. Are you seeing any celebration where Ogbee is? This is because he knows that he did not win the election. So, coming out to make noise about it is an act of bunkum. So, definitely I am going to collect my mandate. It is just a matter of time. Whatever I will do to collect it, I will collect it.
You sound very confident about this. Do you have concrete evidence to back up your claims?
Please, those evidences will be unveiled when the time reaches. I have all my polling agents in various polling units. I have the results. They were declared. The results were written. The press was there. Ask the security agents that monitored the election. Go to the observers. Ask them who monitored the election. So, that is where you get the evidence. I won that election. The president had over 20,000 votes in Ikwo Local Government Area. There is no way the Ikwo will leave their own child. What I had was 45,000 votes, but they decided to scrutinize it using the card reader. At the end, it came down to 21,000 plus and even at that; I still won over the PDP candidate. How do you think that a local government that has 151,000 registered voters and the one that has only 11 wards will supersede it. Let us be specific and tell ourselves the truth and I know that the people of Ezza South Local Government Area voted for me. It is only that there was a pure rigging in Amudo Okofia where the people collected the card reader and one card reader, its VIN number was being showcased in almost about four card readers. That is a fraud. And there is evidence where money from a candidate was transferred to a corps member in (Polling Unit) 004 Amaejuma in Ameka. I have the evidence and I have printed the statement of account. When we get there…
Away from your constituency now, looking at the conduct of the election generally in Ebonyi State, from the information available to you, how free and fair was the election?
It is not free and fair. There was pure teleguided rigging. They connived with some staff of the INEC. Some of the INEC staff are straightforward and sincere to do their job. But there were some that are not straightforward. There is a cartel. There is a woman from Abuja. She was paid N500 million and she was the one that led the operation to go and hijack those things under the instruction of the Ebonyi INEC. So, there is a cartel and what they are concerned about is the money. They are not concerned about good democracy in this country and that is why we continued getting it wrong.
President Buhari has been declared winner by INEC. Some people believe that the election was not free and fair. Do you see it that way?
Who told you so? When you saw what happened in Ikwo; when the old women came to ask, where is Buhari? Where is his ballot paper? The reason they voted for Buhari was that a bushel of rice, they are now selling it N6,000 unlike before when they were selling it N1,500. They wanted that man that values what they are doing to win election. Forget that cartel that ruined this country with corruption. Buhari is the man of the people. We want him and we have re-elected him.