Tension In Imo Over Stalemated Guber Race As INEC Urges Patience
SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, (THEWILL) – The inconclusive governorship election in Imo State conducted on April 26, 2011, has thrown the state into a frenzy as supporters of the two leading candidates in the race – incumbent governor Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), have stepped up claims to the governorship seat, amidst counter claims that some politicians in the state had tried to smuggle thumb-printed ballots into the office of the electoral commission today.
Security agents including soldiers were spotted screening all vehicles plying roads leading to the office of the electoral commission thereby heightening the already tensed situation in the state.
Supporters of both parties also trooped out en masse to express their anger towards the electoral commission for not being forthcoming with plans to resolve the stalemate.
According to the Electoral Act, governorship elections must be concluded at least by 30 days to the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent, which means that if the elections are not concluded by April 29, 2011, the commission would be in violation of the Act, except it finds a legitimate way around that provision.
But INEC has urged all political parties in the state to remain calm as it has consulted with its lawyers for advise on the way out of the logjam.
In a statement by Mr. Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, the commission said it has scheduled a meeting for tomorrow (Friday) to take a final position on the matter.
The statement 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.”