The All Progressives Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressive Grand Alliance candidates for last Saturday’s rerun governorship elections in Taraba, Imo and Abia States on Sunday kicked against the results in their respective states.
The candidates- Aisha Alhassan(APC), Emeka Ihedioha(PDP) and Alex Otti(APGA) told journalists that the elections in their states were charaterised by irregularies.
While Alhassan and Otti said they would go to the tribunal to challenge the outcomes, Ihedioha, said he would leave the decision on whether to challenge the result to his party.
Alhassan was defeated by PDP’s Daruis Ishaku while Otti lost to Okezie Ikpeazu, also of the PDP. Ihedioha, who is the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, lost to Governor Rochas Okorocha of the APC.
In Jalingo, Taraba State, the candidate told a news conference that the entire electoral process was like a “daylight robbery.”
She said, “The governorship election in Taraba State was characterised by violence, massive rigging, ballot snatching and abuse of the card readers in substantial parts of the state by the PDP and their allies.”
Alhassan contended that results ascribed to Wukari, Donga, Takum, Sardauna, Zing, Yorro, Kurmi and some parts of Ussa, Karim-Lamido, Bali, Ardo-Kola and Lau local government areas were not acceptable as they did not reflect the true outcome of the election in Taraba.
Alleging that all the complaints about irregularities and abuse of the election guidelines were reported to INEC, she said she would challenge the outcome at the tribunal.
INEC Returning Officer in the state, Kyari Mohammed, said Ishaku scored 369,318 votes as against Alhassan’s 275,984.
Mohammed said there were 1,461,645 total registered voters in the state, of which 787,516 were accredited for the election.
He explained that the total valid votes cast were 681,166, while the total votes rejected were 174,131.
The April 11 governorship election in the state was declared inconclusive due to what INEC described as widespread irregularities.
In Umuahia, the APGA National leadership claimed that like the April 11 polls in the state, Saturday’s exercise was marred by irregularities.
The party’s Chairman, Mr. Victor Umeh, told journalists that INEC colluded with the PDP to rig the election in favour of Ikpeazu
He expressed shock that INEC ignored APGA’s earlier call for the outright cancellation of results from three Local Government Areas in the April 11 poll but instead reinstated the cancelled results.
Umeh, who contested and lost the senatorial election in Anambra State on March 28, said, “The controversy that was generated by the returning officer in reinstating the election results he had cancelled in Obingwa, Osisioma and Isialangwa North necessitated APGA’s earlier call for the cancelation of the “ out of the reality figures from the affected councils.”
He insisted that INEC ought to have sustained the cancellation of the results from the three councils as it did in Imo State in 2011.
Umeh alleged that “ even the re- run was held under incoherent preparations as up till Friday night, details of polling units remained speculative. “
He said, “APGA rejects the result of the poll as announced not because we cannot lose elections. We can accept losing an election through a credible process. We won the election clearly but our mandate was stolen.
“Accordingly, we will not resort to self help; we will challenge the result at the tribunal.’’
“APGA will firmly stand by Otti until he reclaims his stolen mandate.’’
Umeh called on the President – elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to probe electoral fraud in the South-East after his inauguration because “while other parts of the country are celebrating democracy, INEC used the zone for an experiment.’’
Otti thanked Abians for “their massive support “for him, and appealed to them to remain calm and prayerful as he prepares to head for the tribunal.
He said, “ Election has come and gone but the battle has just started. Evil cannot prevail over good but if it seems to prevail, it is only for a while.
“Weeping can only endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. We will not resort to brigandage because two wrongs cannot make a right. “
Otti alleged that voters were intimidated and scared from the polling units by coffins paraded in Aba by suspected PDP sympathisers on the eve of the election.
He also alleged that the rerun was fraudulently cancelled in Umunneochi after it had been listed by INEC.
The APC candidate, Nyerere Anyim and his Progressive Peoples Alliance counterpart, Chikwe Udensi, came third and fourth respectively with 10,244 and 4,381 votes .
Governor Theodore Orji, who welcomed PDP’s victory at the poll, denied that Ikpeazu was his stooge.
“I can’t manipulate a person who has a Ph.D. He has been in government for long and the era of manipulation is gone. He is intelligent enough to reject what he does not like,”he added.
He attributed Ikpeazu’s victory to people’s quest for power rotation.
Orji, therefore, called on those who lost to close ranks with the winner in the overall interest of the state.
The Police in the state however denied reports by some online news portals that there were violent clashes between the supporters of the PDP and the APC in Aba on Sunday.
Some of them had claimed that “some angry youths who felt cheated over the outcome of the poll have taken to the streets blocking major access roads leading to the home of the PDP candidate.”
According to one of the reports “PDP supporters dressed a coffin in APGA flag while chopping off a fowl head which is a symbol of the APGA”.
Also, while the APC supporters trooped to the streets celebrating Okorocha’s victory, Ihedioha alleged that INEC officials conspired to rig the governorship election in favour of the governor.
He said he was not prepared to congratulate the winner because the election was marred by massive irregularities perpetrated by the APC.
He said, “In spite of instances of identified electoral malpractices, including the arrest of over 25 members of staff of Imo State INEC, who conspired with the opposition party to manipulate and change the results of the elections already declared in favour of the PDP, incident of swapping of PDP votes in favour of the APC, all of which eroded the validity and credibility of the exercise, INEC has gone ahead to declare the APC candidate as the winner.”
However, he maintained that as a law abiding citizen, he acknowledged the declaration of the results by INEC. But he added that his party would deliberate on the details of the result and act appropriately in future.
Our correspondent in Owerri however saw jubilant APC supporters wielding brooms and chanting pro-Okorocha slogans.
They converged on the Government House chapel where Okorocha was having a thanksgiving service to congratulate him.
The elated governor dedicated his victory to the masses of the state who he described as the main victors of the election.
He said, “I have asked God to bless me so that I can bless others, I asked him to honour me so that I can honour others; give me leadership position so that I can impact on my people. This victory is for them.
“I have redeemed my campaign promises; now my people can enjoy free education, kidnapping is now a thing of the past, now it is time for job creation and setting up of industries. The first beneficiaries would be my 25,000 youths waiting for employment. One thousand others will go to Turkey for industrial training.”
He however appealed to his opponents to join hands with him to build the state.
“I suffered a lot of campaign of calumny and hate speeches from my opponents but one thing they would never say is that I did not work; now I am the governor of APC, APGA and the PDP; so I call on them to join hands with me to build this state.”tweet