Okorocha Ruffles Ohakim Inspite of N1.35bn Unleahsed on Imo Electorate
It was a sad day for the PDP in Imo state as the All Progressive Grand Alliance Governorship candidate in the state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha last Tuesday overran the state sweeping the votes even in the most unlikely places. During the collation yesterday in Owerri, while Okorocha was winning in eight local governments, Ohakim only had two LGAs to his credit. It didn't take long before the 'abracadabra' commenced after the ruling party saw the inevitable end of their reign if they left the results untinkered.
Efforts by the PDP to tamper with the results threw the collation centre into an uproar that eventually led to the arrest of the Collation Officer for Mbaitoli council area, Mr Franklin Matthias who was compromised by the PDP to claim that there was no result for Mbaitoli because Okorocha won the election there.
To his peril, a party agent for ACN tendered a copy of the result signed by the same collation officer and handed out to party agents at the local government level. This instantly prompted for the call for the arrest of the collation officer who was indeed arrested on the spot by security agent.
On interrogation, he claimed to be a Non Academic Staff of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) where the PDP Deputy Governorship candidate's husband is Vice Chancellor. The result tendered by party agents and signed by Franklin Matthias showed that APGA floored PDP with 17,757 votes against 12,400 votes.
The initial plan by the ruling party was to upstage Okorocha with votes from Ohaji Egbema council area where the Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Goodluck Opiah has continued unleash mayhem using armed militants to snatch and stuff ballot boxes in favour of the ruling party.
Unfortunately for the ruling party, on witnessing the arrest of the Collation officer from Mbaitoli, the collation officer from Ohaji Egbema who was initial primed to present his outrageous figures fled the collation centre for fear of arrest. Repeated calls from the State chief returning officer, Prof. Enoch Akobundu inviting him to come and present his result went unanswered as he had fled the scene.
Prof. Akobundu however noted that there was already a petition against the election in Ohaji Egbema with alleged the disenfranchisement of over 12,000 voter and on the strength of that and the absence of any result from the council, declared election in Ohaji Egbema as inconclusive.
With wild manipulations of results by the PDP in the six council areas that make up Okigwe zone where the governor comes from, the PDP narrowed the wide margin between Okorocha and Ohakim but the APGA flagbearer was still ahead of Governor Ohakim by about 9000 votes after 23out of the 27 local governments of the state were declared.
Ohaji Egbema, Oguta were however ruled inconclusive and Ngor Okpala and Mbaitoli, undecided.
Excluding the 17,757 votes polled by Okorocha in Mbaitoli LGA, the APGA candidate and before the state Returning Officer ruled that election must be conducted in Ngor Okpala, Ohaji Egbema and Oguta LGAs before the winner would be announced, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was leading Governor Ikedi Ohakim with a total haul of 277,048 votes against Ohakim's 268,928 votes.
Meanwhile, Over 5000 youths had besieged the INEC headquarters in Owerri waiting far outside the gates of the commission from about 8am in the morning to 7.45pm in the evening for the outcome of the result. There were already wild jubilation in town over the rumour outer of Governor Ikedi Ohakim with the implication that any if results had been successfully manipulated in favour of the governor, the state may have been plunged into mayhem.
However, there is the fear that the state may face a constitutional crisis is all the elections for the governorship poll was not concluded within the constitutionally stipulated time frame. As at the time of this report, no official statement has been received from INEC . Against this backdrop, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged all and sundry to exercise patience. A statement from Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the chairman, reads:
'In view of the difficulties experienced with the April 26, 2011 governorship and state assembly election in Imo State , which made the Returning Officer to declare the election inconclusive, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has consulted with its lawyers for advice on the next line of action'.
'The Commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Friday, April 29, 2011 to take a final decision'.
'INEC hereby urges everyone concerned to be patient and await further directives, which will be communicated as soon as a decision is taken. The Commission also urges everyone to be peaceful and avoid taking the laws into their hands'.
'The Commission, once again, reiterates its resolve to ensure the highest level of integrity and credibility for the electoral process and hereby solicits the cooperation of all stakeholders'.