Governor Ikedi Ohakim
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said the winner of the gubernatorial in Imo State between the incumbent Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the leading challenger, Rochas Okorocha of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, will only be determined after re-run polls in the local government areas where election results were declared inconclusive as at yesterday.
Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman, INEC told said this morning that the commission is upholding the declaration of the election as inconclusive by the Returning Officer for Imo State.
He said re-run election will be conducted only in those local governments where the polls were declared inconclusive. The re-run election, he said, will have to be conducted latest by tomorrow.
This is to meet the constitutional requirement which stipulates that elections must be held 30 days to the end of the tenure of the office holder.
The tenure of all the current elected office holders will end on 29 May.
Professor Enoch Akubundu, INEC Returning officer for Imo State gubernatorial election had said yesterday that the final results of the election could not be announced because only results from 24 out of the 27 local government areas in the state have been seen.
According to him, it is necessary to note the results from all the local governments in the state since the two leading candidates are running together.
The two leading candidates were in a photo finish in the results of the local governments declared before the announcement by the Returning Officer.
Rochas Okorocha of APGA had won 12 local governments out of the 24 declared, while Ohakim had won in 11 local governments and was leading in Oguta with 12,216 against APGA’s 4,449 when the Returning Officer for the local government declared that there were no elections in some wards in the area.
The Returning Officer therefore declared the election in Oguta inconclusive. He added that there were also no elections at Ngor Okpalla LGA while in Mbaitoli, Ohaji/ Egbema LGAs, the elections were also inconclusive also because some wards were cancelled due to what the Returning Officer described as irregularities.
“In view of the closeness of the race, the governorship election in Imo State is hereby declared inconclusive. It will be inappropriate for me to announce the result that is inconclusive,” said Professor Akubundu who added that “so I won’t be able to declare a winner in the governorship election in Imo State”, declared.
It was however gathered that Franklin Mathias, the Returning Officer for Ohaji/ Egbema LGA who claimed that there was no election in the area was confronted by party agents with results from the wards which he duly signed.
Franklin did not deny that he signed the results. It was gathered that the Franklin has been handed over to the Police.
It was gathered that supporters of Okoroacha had descended on the collation centre this morning, calling for the release of the remaining election results.
Meanwhile, Owerri, the Imo State capital is still smarting from the tension-soaked governorship election that ended in a stalemate last night.
A combined team of mobile policemen and some Army personnel are now patrolling the streets of the capital to keep the peace, as opposition party supporters reject the outcome of the election.
Elections are now pending in the remaining four LGAs which will decide the winner between Okorocha and Ohakim who are now running neck-and neck.
In the three councils of Ohaji-Egbema, Oguta and Mbaitoli, elections were voided in many wards due to widespread irregularities. In the remaining one, Ngor-Okpala, elections did not hold at all because polling materials arrived very late.
The INEC office in Owerri says it is now awaiting the decision of the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on a date for the rerun of the election in the affected council areas. But it is not likely to hold before the weekend, INEC’s spokesperson in Imo, Samuel Bassey, disclosed this on phone this morning.
Drama and tension characterized the proceedings yesterday at the INEC collation centre in Owerri. Before the returning officer discontinued the announcement of the results, party agents of the APGA and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) accused him of pandering to external pressure to skew the results in favour of Governor Ohakim of the PDP.
The opposition party agents and those of the PDP exchanged verbal attacks while the event was being transmitted live on national television, but security men promptly waded in to calm the situation.
The camp of the APGA candidate, Okorocha has expressed the confidence it would win the contest if the rerun ordered by INEC is allowed to be free and fair.
An APGA chieftain, Martins Agbaso, stated that “the will of the people cannot be changed. We have proven to them (PDP) that we are more popular than they thought.”
The Governor, Ohakim’s camp has also said its chances are “very bright.” Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Henry Ekpe, also said this morning that “the four council areas in question are all PDP strongholds, and we are positive we would be victorious during the rerun.”
This evening, PDP supporters in Owerri are also storming the town, saying “Let’s Do More!”
We want to tell you to do what you feel is right, not according to the numerous text messages being sent across the State!
Remember, Democracy means Government of the people, to the people and by the people. The problem of our time can only be solved when solved together. Stand up today to say Yes, to a candidate of your choice!