Abia INEC Erred By Declaring A Supplementary Election

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Ahead of the April 25th supplementary polls in Abia State, John Okiyi Kalu, a PDP Chieftain and convener of Neigbours4Okezie, a group which supports Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, the PDP governorship candidate, insists that the rerun fixed by the electoral umpire, INEC is unnecessary. In this interview with EmenikeUbani, he explains the reason for the huge vote the party polled in Obingwa local council area, the reversal of the three local government council votes earlier cancelled by the state INEC during collation among other issues arising from the April 11 election.Excerpts:
 
How would you appraise INEC’s performance in the last governorship election in Abia State?
I am not happy that there appears to be an attempt to deny Dr.Okezie Ikpeazu, his legitimate victory or even delay it. The truth is that we went into the polls with a number of accredited voters and not necessarily how many people were registered or had PVCs. When INEC legally on their own decided to cancel some polling results, the total of cancellation came to about 33 thousand votes and the cancelled areas if subtracted from the margin of victory of Ikpeazu which is 83 thousand votes, if you follow the letters or the spirit of the law, you will find out that our candidate should have been declared winner but in this case the INEC returning officer, Prof Benjamin Ozumba, choose to look at the number of registered voters in those areas in gross disregard of the fact that the registered voters do not necessarily have to come to the polls. Some of the registered voters are dead, many of them do not have PVCs either so what he should be looking at should be the number of accredited voters and if you use them as your basis, you will find out that Ikpeazu should be validly declared the winner but since they said there would be a supplementary poll, I am confident that given the political demography in Abia state that once again, voters will reaffirm the mandate they have already given to Dr.Ikpeazu.
While results were yet to be announced, APGA had gone to the media alleging that the election was rigged and seeking a cancellation. What is your take considering the turn of events now?
We understand that the APGA candidate is well heeled and backed from high quarters but one thing I want the world to know is that we will not allow injustice in Abia State. We will not allow APC to take a back door and get the governorship of Abia State. We all know that it was actually APGA that Imo people voted for in 2011 but today Imo is an APC state and that is exactly the sort of agreement we are hearing that our APGA candidate is reaching  out to those in APC, we are aware of his good relationship with the governor of a neighbouring state which has just gone to PDP. We are aware of the donations he received from in Lagos from APC elements, and the pressures that the APC national executive has mounted on Prof.Attahiru Jega, to thwart the will of Abians who voted for Ikpeazu.It will not happen because Abians voted for Dr. Ikpeazu and want him sworn-in. We don’t even want to go for a supplementary election but if they insist on going on with the re-run, as law abiding citizens, we will still troop out on April 25th to reaffirm our support for Ikpeazu. We have looked at the areas where the polls will take place and the demographic shows that if INEC and the authorities do their duties properly by ensuring that a neutral umpire supervises that election, ensuring adequate security in the polling units, securing the sensitive materials for the election and protecting the average Abian from intimidation from APGA members, that Dr.Ikpeazu will still trounce Otti in those polling units. In my hometown, Abiriba, APGA thugs burned two vehicles belonging to a PDP chieftain. The world out there imagines that PDP is the oppressor but that is not true. The Aba situation is typical, at Pound road, (ward 10) in Aba South, we saw a total take over of polling units where APGA was thumbprinting for their governorship candidate but even with all that, Ikpeazu won with 83,000 votes which aligns with the demographics in Abia state.Unless you are new to Abia, there are three local councils from 1999 that have consistently decided the governorship election in Abia State and those are Obingwa, Ossioma and Ohafia. Furthermore, dating back to the days of the second Republic, Aba will not turn out to vote on election days because most people there are non-indigenes and they travel back to their states. There is also the big man syndrome because the typical Aba man does not believe that he has to come out to vote for a politician who will abandon him later. So he would rather open his shop to sell or if there is no opportunity for that stay at home or visit someone with the holiday. So if you look at it objectively, Aba will not have 30 % turnout  in an election and I challenge anybody who understands Abia state to contradict this.
Where did APGA get it wrong?
We knew that as long as we could capture the core voting areas, the places where I now call our Kano, Katsina, Jigawa which is Osisioma, Obingwa and Ugwunagbo, we knew that if we have those places, we will have the election in the kitty.
Some people believe that the Returning Officer should not have reversed the cancellation of the three local councils, Obingwa, Osisioma and Isialangwa-North. Do you think otherwise?
It was another act of chicanery on the part of INEC state officials to have cancelled the election in those places initially. That is why I am worried about the integrity of Prof Benjamin Ozumba, and Prof. Celina Okoh, I do not want to make allegations but the results were declared at the local government levels and the laws are clear on that, they should have accepted it and allowed the other side to go to the tribunal if not satisfied. INEC does not have power to cancel declared polls, it is only a validly constituted electoral tribunal that can cancel any declared result. What happened that day was that INEC reversed an illegality they attempted when faced with the law. They had no other choice when the PDP agents presented them with the letter of the law and told them that you have no right of approbation and reprobation at this stage and that you are constitutionally stopped from cancelling anywhere that has already been declared.
What of the votes that emanated from Obingwa, which is allegedly outrageous according to APGA?
It amazes me that they could say that. I believe that Obingwa did not even do well in the polls. According to statistics, Obingwa has about 150,000 regis tered voters, out of that number, about 1 3 5 , 0 0 0 p e o p l e collected P V C s in Obingwa. Obingwa has a son of the soil running for the governorship election. In  the history of this state, he is the first Ngwa man to run for the seat on the platform of the ruling party. For more than 16 years, the agitation has been to get the governorship seat zoned to the Ngwa speaking areas.
It is expected therefore that his people will troop out en mass to vote for him, it is also natural that Arochukwu people will troop out to vote for Otti and we saw it. Before the polls, the deceit out there was that Alex was from IsialaNgwa but on the election day, he lost out in the polling unit in his adopted place. Rather, it was the same Arochukwu that voted for PDP in the national assembly polls because their son Hon. Mao Ohuabunwa was running for senate that now turned back to vote for APGA on the governorship election.
It’s of course understandably that Otti won massively in Arochukwu because he hails from there.So what is the difference between what happened in Arochukwu and Obingwa? If it is the numbers, let me also refer you to historical facts and tell you that there are 139 polling units in Arochukwu while there are 215 polling units in Obingwa. Is the difference not clear enough to show you that there is no how Arochukwu could not have produced about 20,000 votes? Look at historical data again and tell me if there has ever been any time there was massive voter turn out in Arochukwu?
These are the issues people should be looking at and not the propaganda and lies APGA is dishing out. The fact of the matter is that the result reflect the trend in the state, in the last election and in previous elections in the state. I urge you to do a research, go through the history of governor’s elections in this state since 1999 till date and come back to me.Why is the number of Obingwa voters high? People think Ogborhill is largely Aba, there are five councils that make up Aba, Obingwa, Osisioma, Ugwunagbo, Aba North and South. Of these LGAs that make up Aba town Obingwa and Osisioma have the highest number of non migratory or static voters. People come and go from the more urban areas like Aba South and North but the "rural" LGAs are made up of native Ngwa population that are less migratory. While a student of Abiapoly or a youth corper serving at Aba in 2011 would have moved on to other places, an Obingwa man or woman will remain and do business from his native compound.

Please check the political history of Abia and find out that most governors prefer choosing their deputies from Obingwa because of the available votes. Now they have a son of the soil running for governorship position and you don't expect them to turn out in large numbers and back their son? You must be joking!

Courtesy of Union Newspaper

 

Posted on April, 24 2015

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