From Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia.
FORMER Abia State governor and chairman of SLOK Group, who is seeking to represent Abia North Senatorial Zone at the Senate, on the ticket of the Progressive Peoples Party and
the other candidates will today know the outcome of the re-run poll held yesterday across the constituency.
The rerun poll, which attracted global attention, was affected by low turnout and the card reader machines that functioned epileptically.
Notwithstanding the observed shortcomings, the election went on smoothly with little or no complaint in other areas. Accreditation and voting were held simultaneously.
For instance, in Umunneochi, there was complaint of intimidation by a federal law maker, who was alleged to be moving from booth to booth with security operatives and local thugs, harassing, intimidating and in some cases snatching voting materials with impunity. The member representing Umunneochi Federal Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon Ikedi Ezekwesiri, who confirmed the ugly incident lamented that such a thing could happen even when INEC had ordered that politicians should stay away from voting areas. In Onu Ibina Primary school, Igbere, where Kalu voted about 9.45am, the turnout was good. He expressed satisfaction with the role of the security agencies in the exercise in the area.
Speaking with newsmen after casting his vote at the Onuibina Primary School, Igbere Ward A, Polling Unit 002, Kalu commended the military personnel for their neutrality against what transpired in past elections.
“I must commend the military because they have shown neutrality unlike what happened in the past,” Orji said.
Kalu described the use of the card reader for the election as “the best thing to happen in the nation’s democratic process.”
One of the voters, Chief Madukwe Ukaegbu, a former deputy chief of staff to former governor Theodore A. Orji, expressed satisfaction with the process and the turnout of voters at that booth.
The Deputy Governor of Abia State, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu also described the election as very peaceful and commended the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the efficient way they conducted the re-run election.
According to him, the INEC workers came out on time and accreditation started on time, stressing that by 8.30 am that he had been accredited and voted immediately. He, however, pointed out that the issue of card reader was the main challenge the people faced in the election, stating that there were various complaints of battery failure from different quarters.
But a PDP chieftain complained that INEC officials did not allow registered voters, whose thumbprints were not recognized by the card reader, to vote using the voters’ register.
At Akanu Item the Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Cosmos Ndukwe said that the voting went on smoothly, stating that INEC had improved on its services.
Ndukwe said that INEC used the card reader and also displayed the voters’ register noting that this allowed voters’ to know where they were supposed to cast their votes after collecting
their ballot paper.
At Ozuitem the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Eme Okoro complained that the INEC officials in connivance with some politicians changed the polling station, Obasiukwu hall very close to his house to another place called Etitiozu primary school. According to him, since 1993 voting had always taken place at Obasiukwu hall which hosts three polling units, alleging that it was a grand plan to disenfranchise his people.
However his younger brother, Maduka Okoro who supports former governor Kalu countered him, saying that the era when one man decided what would happen in Ozuitem was over.
“Etitiozu is the correct place where people from Ogboko cast their votes during election and INEC has restored the original venue,” he affirmed.