ELECTION IN ABIA NOT FREE, FAIR -OBSERVERS
Independent domestic observers have described the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Abia State as a rape of democracy because they were neither free nor fair. Although, the observers admitted it was peaceful, the presence of armed military and policemen were seen by some opposition leaders as agents of harassment and intimidation.
The groups, however, passed a different verdict on the conduct of the poll in Enugu State. They adjudged the elections as relatively free, fair and transparent except in Igboeze South Local Government Area where armed soldiers were accused by the Labour Party (LP) of aiding and abetting the expulsion of polling agents from all the polling units in the local council.
In a statement released in Abuja, domestic election observers from a democracy- focused, and development-oriented non-governmental organization- Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] said the governorship election in Abia was fraught with incidents of ballot box-snatching at gun point by thugs suspected to be supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) even as the rights group said agents of other opposition parties were randomly framed up and arrested by the military and police operatives and kept away from their duty post throughout the duration of the exercise on nebulous grounds.
In a statement jointly endorsed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and its National Director of Media Affairs, Ms. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA which was one of the officially accredited domestic observers for the general elections identified places where its observers noticed significant cases of irregularities during the governorship and Houses of Assembly election in Abia include parts of Aba, Bende, and Ugwunagbo Local Government Councils.
Besides, cases of irregularities were noticed more in Ugwunagbo Local Council in areas like Ward 2, Unit 5; characterized by ballot box stuffing, removal of ballot papers and carting away of ballot boxes; Ward 4, Units 1-17, characterized by forceful removal of party agents of opposition parties by armed thugs allegedly on the orders of the transition chairman of Ugwunagbo Local Government Area, Chief Eze Nwanga. He however denied the allegation as politically motivated.
The rights body also said her observers noticed unusual movement of Youth Corps members into a prominent hotel in Aba on the morning of April 26 where alleged thumb -printing of ballot papers were perpetrated.
It stated that effort made by some of our vigilant observers to ascertain the nature of assignment of the corps members with Independent National Electoral Commission's tags proved abortive as some armed soldiers and police turned us back at the entrance to the hotel usually frequented in Aba by politicians.
However, our observers who observed the conduct of the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections in some parts of Umuahia North Local Government Area, said election was peaceful. The area covered by our observers included the three polling centers in Umukabia, four polling units at St. Michael Primary School Nkwoegwu all in Nkwoegwu Ward and Umuawa Alaocha Central School at Nkwoachara ward and Umuagu Central School in Umuhu Ward.
In Enugu State, HURIWA's team of observers said election was conducted freely and fairly in most local government area councils with the exception of Igboeze South local government (Alor agu ward one and Achara ward four) where agents of Labour Party were allegedly abducted by armed thugs in partnership with armed soldiers and police.