Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disowned its Ad hoc staff, Innocent Ibeawuchi, who was the Returning Officer of last Saturday’s National Assembly election in Imo State and has confirmed Governor Rochas Okorocha as the senator-elect for Imo West District.
Ibeabuchi, after declaring Okorocha winner of the election, at the Orlu INEC Collation Centre, alleged shortly in another chat with the media in Owerri, the state capital, that he was made to declare the governor under duress.
But INEC, speaking through its Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Emmanuella Okwara, maintained that Ibeawuchi is on his own.
Okwara further pointed out that what transpired between Ibeabuchi and the governor is entirely his business, and advised him to make his report officially to the commission; if his claims were true.
She said: “What transpired between them is his business, but the only person we have cleared so far is governor Okorocha.”
Meanwhile, INEC has declared the Imo North senatorial district and House of Representatives elections inconclusive, following alleged irregularities that marred the election.
Elsewhere, the Returning Officer for Anambra South senatorial district, Prof. Meshach N. Umenweke has declared the election inconclusive.
Prof. Umenweke said he announced the result he had at the moment and declared the candidate of the Young Peoples Party (YPP), Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, winner due to the volatile situation at the collation centre, which was a great threat to his life.
Umenweke, who is of the Department of Public and Private Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, had earlier made a written statement to that effect to INEC.
In a February 25 letter addressed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, a copy of which was seen by Daily Sun, Umenweke noted receipt of a letter of protest by one of the candidates in the election in which he enumerated various wards and polling units across the senatorial district where card readers were not used and gave reasons why he did not act immediately.
“The letter, which was addressed to your good self and copied to me, was delivered to me at 9.15pm on February 24. At the material time, I could not act on the letter due to the following reasons: There was insufficient time to investigate the allegation contained therein.
“The skirmishes within the compound of the Nnewi North Local Government, where the results were being collated between the police and some thugs who sought to gain entrance into the area of collation. The situation was volatile, intense and charged.
“Police had to tear gas the thugs and supporters; most of whom waited nearby. There was insufficient security in the collation arena. There was the imminent danger to my person; given the situation at hand, to delve into the merits of the petition at the material time.
“The allegations raised therein are serious and grave. Sequel to the above, I, hereby, declare the result of the elections for Anambra South senatorial district seat, which I pronounced, yesterday (on Monday), inconclusive. This is to enable a conduct of a rerun election in the affected areas.”
Prof. Umenweke confirmed the contents of the letter to Daily Sun, yesterday.
He said: “When they brought me a petition of some areas where they had difficulties in using the card reader and some places that they didn’t use it at all, it is all in that paper you are talking about. The petition came late; we were right there in the hall. Based on those issues raised in that petition, it was a considered opinion that a re-run ought to be done in those areas.
“We could not delve into it at that point in time because of the volatile situation on ground we have to call out the result with us and leave.
“I stated the reason there; there was security risk there; even tear gas was used. So, there was no way one could have left there without saying something, otherwise, you understand. Elections will continue and I have to live to tell the story; so, we had to call it.
“Then, the other issues ought to be looked into in a way of rerun in areas affected. In essence, I told the Commission (INEC) that the election is inconclusive because re-run should be conducted in the affected areas.”