The Labour Party governorship candidate in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti has reacted to the reports of suspension of the collation of results from Obingwa LGA by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
AbaCityBlog reports that INEC had in a statement ordered for the suspension of results collation from Obingwa LGA.
INEC, in a statement signed by Barr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the order was issued after the Commission met on Monday 20th March 2023 and reviewed the conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly elections held nationwide on Saturday 18th March 2023.
Arising from the meeting, the Commission took the decision to suspend forthwith further collation of the Governorship election results in some parts of Abia (specifically, Obingwa).
According to the statement, INEC office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday Sunday 19th March 2023 and the commission’s officials were held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area.
In a tweet via his official Twitter handle, Otti called on his supporters to remain calm and allow INEC to take its time and review the Obingwa results. According to Otti, Obingwa has become a terror ground, which PDP uses in a every election to get into power in the state.
“I addressed the press and our teeming supporters who had thronged our campaign headquarters, ready to celebrate our victory at the just concluded election.
We received in good faith the decision by INEC to scrutinize the dubious result from Obingwa.
“Obingwa has become a terror ground, not by the making of the innocent citizens there, but because of the desperation of the PDP in Abia state who, forgetting that times have changed, resorted to their usual election rigging strategy.
“The situation saw the number of purported votes cast outnumbering the accredited voters by a great margin, and recourse to violence that had our Obingwa LG agent Dr. George Chiedozie brutalized by PDP thugs. I urge Ndi Abia to remain calm, as we await INEC to do the right thing”, Otti tweeted.
Abia State PDP Expressed Disappointment in INEC
The state ruling party, PDP has expressed disappointment and disatisfaction with the INEC following the suspension of the Obingwa results.
PDP in a statement signed by the State Chairman, Rt. Hon. Asiforo Okere, decried INEC stand on reviewing the Obingwa results. Adding that the statement by INEC that its officials were held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Obingwa Local Government Area is a false alarm.
He went further to say the Youths of Obingwa should be applauded to make sure INEC follow its procedure in making sure results are announced at the polling unit before transmitting it to the collation center.
The statement read;
The Abia State Chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wishes to express her disappointment and consternation with the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to review the collation of Obingwa LGA result which has already passed through unit, ward and Local government collation processes, ostensibly because INEC “office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday Sunday 19th, March 2023 and our officials held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area”, according to a statement credited to Barr Festus Okoye.
It is important to note the following:
1. There were also reports of INEC officials allegedly being held hostage in Ohafia LGA, Umuahia South and Umuahia North, yet INEC accepted results from those LGAs.
2. It is on record that Obingwa is the only LGA where polling agents insisted on full compliance with the INEC’s stated guideline of announcement of results at unit, and collation at wards so that polling agents can have copies prior to submission to State collation office.
3. We are not aware of any report by security agencies in the state, including Nigerian Police Force if the Department of State Services (DSS), indicating violence in Obingwa LGA before, during and after the election of March 18th, 2023.
4. Our party, and indeed others, have seriously complained about results that were changed at INEC office Umuahia, contrary to INEC procedures, with particular reference to Unuahia North, Umuahia South, Osisioma, Aba North, Aba South and Arochukwu without any action taken by INEC.
5. We suspect strongly that this so called review is another grand design to subvert the 2022 electoral guidelines, as published by INEC in our state given that in the case of Presidential elections, PDP and other parties made similar calls for review without acceptance by INEC that simply asked them to “go to court”.
We therefore call on INEC to immediately accept and announce Obingwa LGA result as collated from units through the wards, using the same guideline and rules they applied during 2023 presidential election.