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JEGA URGED TO PROBE STALLED AGUATA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY RERUN ,POLL

By NBF News
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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega has been urged to order a probe into the activities that led to the non-conduct of the Aguata Federal Constituency rerun election on April 26.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the election, Chike Anyaonu made the plea in a petition sent to Prof Jega.

Anyaonu urged the INEC chairman to ascertain the complicity or otherwise of the Anambra Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Onukogu and Aguata INEC Electoral Officer, Mr Blessing Chukwuemeka in the subversion of the election process by allegedly issuing orders and improper regulations in violation of the Electoral Act.

The PDP candidate also sought for a probe of the N150 million bribe that supposedly caused and influenced certain officials of your Commission to overlook, downplay and subvert due process and the laid down rules in the conduct of the election.

Anyaonu explained that the rerun election in Aguata Federal Constituency arose out of the inconclusive conduct of the election held originally on April 9. 'On that day, the election took place successfully in 18 out of the 20 wards in Aguata whereupon the Constituency Returning Officer (CRO), one Dr Alex Asigbo announced the result of the election as collated from the said 18 wards as follows - PDP 14,195, APGA 7,056, ACN 4,555 etc.'

The PDP candidate submitted that the April 9 poll, which necessitated the rerun 'was generally peaceful and commendable, except for the two wards, Umuchu 1 and Igboukwu 1, where the results were cancelled to every person's knowledge due to the intransigence of APGA and ACN agents / supporters respectively. 'For instance, PDP was leading in Umuchu 1 in particular with over 800 votes before the incident of thuggery and snatching of the collated ward results from the INEC officials on their way to the INEC office that day. Can somebody who is in the lead already resort to result snatching? As for Igboukwu ward 1, the ACN candidate who hails from that town reportedly assaulted the ward Collation Officer and in the course of that obstructed him from completing his work.'

According to the Anyaonu, while the rerun was underway, they got information about a conspiracy to subvert the due process, and work out the result in favour of the APGA candidate by all means. 'Curious about this, and in keeping with the practice, we decided to be present at the point of distribution of the materials in Aguata but were barred by the Electoral Officer (EO), Mr Blessing Chukwuemeka, who claimed to be acting on the orders of the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the state (REC), Prof Onukogu.

'We became even more curious when it was discovered that despite the fact that the APGA candidate was not present, his agents were enjoying an undue advantage at the INEC Office. For instance, their agents were allowed easy access and entry into the office, while PDP and ACN agents were completely denied access into the INEC office. To compound it all was the EO's refusal to allow the candidates present to inspect the result sheets particularly the form EC8Bs that were delivered to Aguata for the Federal Constituency rerun election.

'At about 2pm, one Barrister Odinaka Ikoroha, of the INEC's Legal Department arrived the scene and announced that those issues being contested in Aguata had been reported to the REC who, she claimed, sent her to provide a solution to the problem. She also disclosed that some of her other colleagues were coming from Awka with fresh result sheets since the ones delivered earlier have been issued out and could no longer be retrieved from the field.

'Her colleagues arrived moments later, led by Mr Nwuneli who corroborated her claim of being sent by the REC to resolve the Aguata imbroglio. There were equally very serious and vehement disagreements over the propriety or otherwise of issuing and using fresh result sheets to continue with the election at about 2.30 p.m.; uncertainty about the state of usefulness of the forms already issued especially when they had not been retrieved; and the discovery, to the chagrin of everybody that the new set of results collation forms (EC8Bs) brought from Awka by Mr Nwuneli and colleagues were only duplicate copies.

'After having consulted among themselves and the various security teams present (the Police led by the Assistant Commissioner Uzor, the SSS, the Military etc.) and reportedly relaying the situation report to the REC on phone, Mr Nwuneli appeared at about 3pm and announced the postponement of the election to a later date to be announced by the Commission.' Anyaonu appealed to announce the winner of the election with the results already available to the INEC officials, wondering why the sins of evil doers was being visited on the righteous.

Alternatively, he said if a rerun was still actually necessary, Prof Jega should order for the conduct of an election that would be credible, transparent, free and fair. 'Should this be case, both the REC (Prof Onukogu) and the EO (Mr B Chukwuemeka) who are known to have compromised their positions should be removed from taking part further in the election,' he urged.