Abia North Senatorial Rerun: Elections in Bende, a sham —SSG

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 8 March 2016 | 5,939 times

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The rerun election last Saturday in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State where the candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, netted a massive 14,000 votes has been described as a sham as it was characterised by intimidation and malpractice.

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Dr Eme Okoro, argued that the votes ascribed to the PPA candidate were not a true reflection of what transpired. He insisted that while there was no voting in his Umuobasi Ukwu Autonomous Community with about 3,000 registered voters, collation was done.

He has, therefore, demanded that votes collated from the three polling units in his community and ascribed to Kalu should be expunged or a fresh rerun organised in the area.

Bende, the home council of Kalu, a former Abi governor, is part of Abia North where there was a rerun election to choose a senator for the zone.

Dr Eme Okoro, who is the Secretary to Abia State Government (SSG), lamented the height of intimidation visited on him and his people in his community, probably to scare them from coming out to exercise their franchise.

The SSG told newsmen that prior to the election, his house was attacked and damaged by thugs who may have been on a mission to eliminate him.

He also said that he, in company of the Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, and a former Leader of the House, Chief P.C. Onyegbu, had gone to the Bende council headquarters to ascertain if the Divisional Police Officer of Bende had received all facilities provided for his men for the election duty but were attacked allegedly by PPA thugs. He further said that the thugs equally destroyed his official vehicle and other vehicles belonging to PDP members which were within their sight, both in the council headquarters and along the road.

Dr Okoro maintained that there was no voting in polling units 001, 002, 003 in Umuaobasi Ukwu as no Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official showed up at the Etitiozu Central Hall where voting has been taking place in the community since 1993. He said voters who had trooped out to queue and vote went home about 8pm disappointed when no INEC official failed to show up to conduct the rerun.

“All our elections in this community have been held at the Etitiozu Central Hall. How come INEC, in its own wisdom, that approved this location since 1993, suddenly felt that the rerun should be in the forest zone of this community? That is the question I want the REC to answer,” Okoro said.

“I am saying that within the community in which I claim to be a principal stakeholder and in which no elections were held, you cannot collate results that were not originally present since no voting occurred in 001, 002, 003 polling booths, including this speculated 009 polling booth. I want that number claimed to have been voters there deleted,” he added.

“I am insisting that results associated with those three polling booths, and then the one called 009, when INEC makes inquiries, should be completely expunged from the record of this election. Alternatively, I challenge him (REC) to produce the results of the three units, by asking within a 24-hour period, for election to be held in full view of cameramen, the Police, civil society, human rights activists and military. And I can guarantee that my community will vote massively for PDP,” he said.

He said that he had filed a hand written petition to the Abia State REC on the non-voting in his community, lamenting that his people have been denied their inalienable right to vote.

“I am very happy that PDP eventually turned out the victor by returning Mao Ohuabunwa. And I am saying that the result credited to Orji Uzor has been falsified, given the background I have given you, even the fact that over 3,000 people had been disenfranchised in my three polling booths. Orji Uzor couldn’t have made 14,000 in the so-called Bende Local Government Area,” he said.

The SSG stressed the need “to propagate the idea of non-violence, to allow democracy to thrive because the beauty of democracy is the right to choose.”

•Photo shows Abia SSG, Dr Eme Okoro.

Source: News Express

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