Thanks to the vigilance of an INEC staff, a fake result which allocated high vote margin to the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate Rochas Okorocha, in the recent inconclusive governorship contest with Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and others, was detected to have been recorded on a result sheet carrying the serial number of a Northern State. On further check, it was discovered that eleven (11) other such fake results had been admitted and declared by INEC, all favoring Rochas Okorocha. This incontrovertible revelation remained uncorrected.
In Oru East LGA, a heroic Electoral Officer Mrs. Emmanuella Opara shocked stakeholders including the state Returning Officer Professor Ibidapo Obey and the State Resident Commissioner Dr. George Ada, of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] when she confessed that she and her colleagues were held hostage for several hours by thugs who forced her to write results of the governorship polls, under gun point, in favor of the All Progressive Congress (APC). This account by Mrs Opara was corroborated by agents of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and UPP. The authentic votes where PDP received a very significant vote margin (over 35,000 votes) out of the over 41,000 votes cast, was re-written to allocate APC 11, 000 votes and about 1000 votes for PDP.
Mrs Opara said “We were held hostage by thugs who took us to a house where we were forced to write the results of the governorship elections and I and the collation officer for the Oru East local government had no choice but to do what they asked us to do in order to save our lives …..i”.
Given these accounts, and the courage of Mrs Opara in coming forward, at the risk of her life, INEC rather than admit her original report, went on to cancel the entire result of the LGA- thereby inflicting on Mrs Opara’s additional emotional trauma, penalizing Chief Ihedioha and rewarding Okorocha the perpetrator of the abuse and fraud.
In Ezinihitte LGA, where the PDP candidate Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha is from, two hours after INEC declared the result that gave Chief Ihedioha over 40,000 vote’s margin, an unscrupulous INEC operative had unilaterally went behind and changed this figure to 29677 (PDP 29677 vs APC 7755), shaving off almost 20000 votes from Ihedioha’s votes. This lower figure remains on the record of INEC.
There were other widely reported incidences of thuggery and intimidation unleashed on the Imo electorate by Okorocha, his deputy Prince Eze Madumere and their agents. For instance, Madumere and his agents were caught red handed snatching and carting off election materials to unknown locations. In Ezinihitte Mbaise, fake policemen, who confessed that they were working for the APC were arrested. In Ideato North and South LGAs, there was massive violence and swapping of ballot papers, while Ideato North and Oru LGAs experienced snatching of ballots. Also evidence abound that no election was held in Ideato south, but figures (PDP 2317 vs APC 32708) were awarded to favor Okorocha.
In another disturbing incident, Ugonna Omeronye, a young man and the leader of the 10,000 youths fired by Okorocha at the inception of his administration, was grisly murdered at his home, in cold blood by suspected agents of APC, on the eve of the gubernatorial election, after he had tweeted a call to action to his colleagues to get out and vote for the PDP.
Attesting to these instances of massive electoral irregularities a group of 100 observers under the umbrella of coalition of Imo NGOs/CSOs on Good Governance, disclosed during a media chat in owerri that “There was a scenario whereby a person or a group of people will hijack the electoral materials to the comfort of their homes to thumb print and rig the election in favor of their political parties……INEC should cancel the April 11 Governorship and Houses of Assembly polls in Imo State to enable the people exercise their constitutional franchise of voting, a process where the voters will not be coerced or intimidated to vote for a particular candidate but a candidate of their choice…… while election did not hold in some places, results were announced in those areas and this was the highest point of electoral malpractices…A man sat down where voters cast their ballots to ensure that every voter votes for his party. In fact, after thumb printing, you give your ballot to his boy to check if you truly voted for them and then place the ballot into the box by himself”. They went on to reassure that “We have all the evidences to buttress our point of irregularities in the election process..” The group then opined “… that the commission will give a listening ear to us because they are a responsible body. We are directly working with them because we were accredited by them to observe the process so if we file our reports, they should look into it critically because we are not a political group, we are not partisan. But if they refuse to see reason with us or give us good reasons for their refusal, we will take a legal action on them.”
These cited electoral violations are odious, troubling, disgraceful, inconsistent with Imo State values and egregious enough to incur the immediate disqualification of Rochas Okorocha. Yes show him the red card! That INEC has not done that, but is rather rewarding Okorocha with an inconsequential selective rerun that essentially takes away all valuable votes from Emeka Ihedioha, leaving Rochas with his votes almost intact, is totally unacceptable.
INEC must demonstrate that it is an impartial umpire, not a partner-in-crime with Rochas Okorocha to steal and defraud Ndi Imo of their mandate to Emeka Ihedioha. INEC should disqualify Okorocha without further delay! In addition to the demand for disqualification, other options INEC should consider are to either un-cancel and release all votes cast and declare whoever has the highest votes the winner, or cancel and redo the entire election.
For the sake of peace and tranquility, INEC should immediately retract from its current unacceptable trajectory and adopt any of the remedial options prescribe above, or be held responsible for any ugly incidences, anarchy or mayhem that could arise from sub-optimally adjudicating this barefaced, vagrant and corrupt violation of our peoples rights and democratic franchise. Let it be clear, Imo citizens will resist any imposition of a Governor.
(Professor Edward Oparaoji is the convener of the Diaspora Imo Citizens Coalition, with members across the globe, and Headquartered in Washington DC, USA)
Lame duck professor Oparoji from Mbaise take note: Gov Okorocha was hardly a year in office when you circulated a malicious article calling Okorocha a jester in Imo state official Government Douglas House, Owerri.
Who on earth will now take Oparoji serious?
Sectinalism in every thing, including politics, has eaten deep in you people’s DNA.
If you had tried first to mediate for your lot to accommodate a Catholic bishop posted to your diocese before you scheme to have one of yours to govern a whole Imo state.
Mr Mba, sorry o.. those unscrupulous elements in inec has been apprehended doing what they know best how to do. they are now singing.. . if you have source, confirm pls.