…APC, APGA, PDP Sing Discordant Tunes

By Chuks Okocha and Charles Onyekamuo on November, 18 2013

Views: 5,747

•Ngige, Nwoye boycott rescheduled election  

•Senate to probe INEC over missing names in voters’ register

The loss of credibility dogging the Anambra State governorship election refused to go away Sunday as major parties disagreed over the conduct of the poll.

The All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took different positions on the conduct of the election, with the APC calling for the total cancellation of the results, which were yet to be announced.

Whereas APGA lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) for the conduct of the election, the PDP also expressed satisfaction about the exercise, despite the flaws.

PDP's stance was, however, at variance with its governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Tony Nwoye, who described the election as a ruse.

APC, on the other hand, which boycotted the rescheduled election in some wards in Obosi, in a statement yesterday, based its call for the cancellation of the election results on the alleged massive disenfranchisement of people across the state.

THISDAY gathered that because of its displeasure over the conduct of the election, APC leaders, in a preemptive move, held meetings with the party’s candidate, Senator Chris Ngige, on how to challenge the outcome of the poll in court if INEC failed to order a fresh poll.

The party said the flaws witnessed in the election were caused by the blatant incompetence and deliberate sabotage by the commission.

In a statement by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party added that the call for total cancellation of the results superseded its earlier call for a rerun in four local government areas.

It said INEC inexplicably used a voters’ register different from what it gave to political parties ahead of the election, with the result that the new register did not contain the names of most of the registered voters in the state.

It explained that the delivery of materials to Ngige’s strongholds was either done very late or not at all, a development that further robbed over 300,000 of his supporters in three key local governments of Idemili North, Idemili South and Awka South of their franchise.

INEC had in the wake of outrage over its inability to conduct the election in some areas, ordered a fresh poll in 65 polling units mostly in Idemili North and Idemili South Local Government Areas yesterday.

However, APC said in its statement that after consultations with its agents as well as with local and foreign observers, it discovered that what it had complained about was child's play, adding that there was widespread disenfranchisement that was orchestrated by INEC.

“We discovered that INEC has set up a multi-layer arrangement to ensure that most voters in the state were disenfranchised, apparently acting out a script to manipulate the result of the election in favour of a certain candidate. Where voting materials were supplied, the commission provided wrong voters’ register.

“Coming after the charade in Delta, this is a serious development that raises questions about the ability of INEC to conduct free, fair and transparent elections anywhere in Nigeria. It is particularly serious because if people who registered to vote are not able to do so, and even the votes of those who managed to cast them do not count, then anarchy is looming,” the party added.

It called for a probe of INEC to determine why it allegedly sabotaged its own election, even when people were determined to endure the orchestrated inconveniences and shun violence.

“This is a new low for INEC, and unless something is done urgently, the electoral commission may plunge Nigeria into a crisis from which it may not recover,” APC warned.

A few hours to the conduct of the rescheduled election, Ngige announced his withdrawal from the election, saying it was unfair to conduct an election in a predominantly Christian community on Sunday.

He also queried the rationale of excising Obosi Ward 7 out of the entire Idemili North Local Government Area when there was no election in the area.

He described the decision to hold the election only in Obosi as a grand design to disenfranchise his supporters from voting, adding that what happened on Saturday was a systematic and scientific plan to disenfranchise his supporters in areas considered as his strongholds.

The APC governorship candidate accused INEC of manipulating the voters’ register in his areas of strength in Idemili North, Idemili South and Awka South Local Government Areas and in some cases coming to the polling centres without result results.

“They came to Obosi to say they wanted to accredit people for the election without result sheets and the people resisted them. We asked for a fresh election in the whole of 380 wards in Idemili North. They refused. We have petitioned the INEC and its national chairman that the election is already compromised.

“We asked the commission to conduct the election in 380 units instead of slicing off Obosi today (yesterday). How can you conduct election for the 48,000 voters in Obosi and leave out other towns totalling 78,000?

“Even the Obosi election they said they were conducting, we found that result sheets were not part of the materials they were distributing,” he said.

But INEC National Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, in a reaction, defended the decision to reschedule the election to Sunday, which he attributed to the outcome of the consultations the commission had with the community and agents of political parties.

Jega said the decision to hold the election yesterday was one of the conditions given to INEC before electoral officials were allowed to leave the various polling units.
He explained that there was nothing in the Electoral Act stopping the conduct of elections on Sundays.

The ruling party in the state however reacted differently to the conduct of the election, saying it was satisfied with the outcome.

APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, at a press conference in Awka, criticised the opposition for being bad losers.

He added that they were being critical of the results of the election because from the results their agents in the field collated for them, they had discovered to their chagrin that they had lost the election.
He recalled that Jega and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Abubakar Mohammed, had some five days to the election, held a stakeholders’ forum in Awka, during which they promised that the election would be free and fair to the satisfaction the of all, adding: “I can say that they have lived up to their promise.”

PDP also spoke in a similar vein as it commended the people of Anambra State for the peaceful and orderly conduct of the governorship election.

The party also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for providing
adequate security and the enabling environment for the conduct of a credible, free and fair election in the state despite the hitches.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, said in a statement that the party was satisfied that despite the massive importation of thugs and machinations by the APC to disrupt and rig the election, the process was conducted peacefully.

“While we now await the official result, we wish to express our satisfaction that the election was conducted without disturbances, despite the massive importation of political thugs by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as their heinous plots to introduce violence to disrupt and rig the poll having discovered that they have been rejected by the people.

“We also commend the candidate of our great party, Comrade Tony Nwoye, for his resilience, grassroots appeal and credible outing which brought him to the forefront in the race despite having only two weeks to campaign.

“This is evident in the results so far released in which he roundly defeated the candidate of the APC who had been campaigning for four months before our candidate," it said.

Nwoye, however, differed from his party as he accused INEC of manipulating the election in connivance with security agencies and APGA.

Nwoye, at a press conference in Awka yesterday, said his party did not participate in the rescheduled election and would not accept the result.

He said: “Our agents and supporters were beaten in places like Ihiala, Ebenebe in Awka North, Aguleri, Aguleri-otu and several other places. I didn’t vote, my father and my uncles couldn’t vote because we could not find our names in the register of voters.
“In Obosi, Ogbaru, Ihiala, Aguleri and Aguleri-out, there were no electoral materials and where they were brought, people were chased away.”

Amidst the complaints, Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Andy Uba, who is also from Anambra State and tried to clinch the ticket of the party, said yesterday that the Senate would invite Jega to explain the causes of the anomalies.
Uba told reporters that he would use his office to ensure that the Senate probes the anomaly.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER) has urged INEC to conduct a rerun election in four local governments where massive irregularities and electoral fraud were recorded in contrast to the three wards in Idemili North comprising only 65 polling units.

It said in a statement that this was imperative for INEC to show itself as an unbiased umpire by adhering to the wishes of the people to have rerun in the three local government areas.

It also noted that there the electoral malpractices in some parts of the state, including Idemili North and South Local Government Areas, the late arrival of electoral materials, and absence of INEC officials in some polling units.

It also accused some parties of offering money to polling officials and election monitors to allow them rig in Nteje Ward, PU 004, Ama Okpo and Orikabi.


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