By Stevenie Michaels
Members and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo state on Wednesday protested at the state secretariat of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Owerri, the state capital over the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
Protesting at the state secretariat of INEC in Owerri, the chieftains of the PDP in the state alleged that INEC connived with the members of the All Progressives Congress to rig the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
Briefing journalists, the PDP chairman in the state, Charles Ugwu, said that the INEC and the ruling APC joined hands to rig the Imo state elections.
Reading a protest letter addressed to the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Slivia Agu, said “the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), writes to complain, and to condemn in no uncertain terms the series of atrocities committed by both regular and ad hoc staff of INEC, in connivance with the members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Imo State, which were held on 25th February, 2023.
We were indeed taken aback at the brazenness of the electoral heist perpetrated against our respective parties, and the people of Imo State after the official conclusion of voting on the said day, when it had become obvious that the ruling APC was losing massively all over the state.
“We were quite confounded to discover that the APC’s efforts to scuttle and overturn the freely expressed will of Imo people as articulated via their votes, and attempts to manipulate the results in its favour met with your wholesome approval, and was perpetrated with your full cooperation. We are also made to understand that you actually handed over the election materials for several areas to APC agents of Governor Hope Uzodinma, to write results in APC’s favour.
“As it stands, results were conjured for areas where elections did not take place, and ‘collated’ to favour APC, and sadly, Imo State INEC under your watch accepted, and announced them as authentic results.
“It is on record that in Okigwe LGA, elections did not hold in seven (7) electoral wards namely, Ihube, Agbobu, Ndimoko Ofeimo/Ibinta/Okanachi/Umuowa Ibu, Aku, Umulolo, Ogii and Amuro Wards, but over forty thousand (40,000) votes were fraudulently manufactured and credited to APC in this LGA which recorded less than three thousand (3,000) authentic votes from the other four (4) wards where elections actually took place.
“The reckless impunity was replicated in other Local Government Areas, such as Aboh Mbaise, Ehime Mbano, and Oguta, and indeed results from Jigawa State were uploaded and transmitted to INEC’s iREV Portal, in place of the authentic results from those areas. For Orsu, Oru East, and parts of Orlu LGAs where elections did not hold at all, results from the same Jigawa State were equally uploaded and transmitted to the iREV Portal as results from those areas; and all these were scandalously accepted by your Commission, and declared as real.
We were also bewildered that on 10th March 2023, fictitious results concocted by your staff and APC agents for Okigwe and other LGAs were being uploaded to the iREV portal in place of the earlier results from Jigawa State.
“This is indeed a clear indication that your office manipulated the BVAS machines, contrary to INEC’s claims that the machines were programmed to automatically shut down at the end of voting at polling units. We are still wondering how this magic was possible.
“We were indeed highly disappointed with your role and active involvement in orchestrating and perpetrating a massive electoral fraud in the state which has unfortunately scuttled the will and wish of the people of the state.
“Concerned political parties in Imo State have watched the above scenario unfold with seeming helplessness. As a law-abiding party, we are averse to any resort to self-help in the face of such unrelenting acts of provocation and electoral malfeasance against the popular will of the people of the state.
“Therefore, we are using this medium to register our total dismay and extreme dissatisfaction with your conduct in the last election, as the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, given that:
A very high standard of honesty and integrity is expected of your person, as a Professor of one of Nigeria’s foremost citadels of learning.
“But unfortunately, your role in the last election has brought opprobrium to the integrity and reputation of the entire academia.
“The people of Imo State, and diverse observers of our electoral process had placed much reliance and hope on the assurances given by INEC, and by extension, your very self that the elections would be free, fair and credible. Regrettably, you have betrayed the people’s expectations and the confidence reposed in you as an electoral umpire.
“In the light of the above, we are hereby serving notice to you, members of your staff, and any other interested persons that we shall no longer condone any form of manipulation, or any other acts capable of undermining the corporate will of the people, and the integrity of our electoral system.
“We expect a more professional approach from your Commission in the forthcoming House of Assembly elections billed for Saturday 18th March, 2023. The people shall resist any act by your Commission or by any other persons, intended to subvert their popular preferences.
“We are also urging you as an umpire to ensure that the forthcoming election is conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Law, INEC’s guidelines, and within the ambits of transparency and procedural fairness.
We are confident that you shall give a prompt and positive attention to our request and presentation in the interest of justice, equity and peace.”