By Ori Martins
Thousands of voters as well as the opposition parties across the South East region have bitterly complained about what they described as high level of intimidation and voter suppression in the governorship, states house of assembly elections held last Saturday, March 18, 2023.
The voters largely complained about the government in power colluding with both the INEC officials as well as the security agencies to manipulate election processes for the candidates of the ruling parties in the various states.
In a release made available to Business Hallmark on behalf of the national secretary the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, and signed by his media aide, Ikenna Onuohia, urged the electoral umpire to declare the authentic results.
“Should INEC fail to declare the authentic results to show how the people of the state voted for the Peoples Democratic Party, it will be concluded that officials of the Commission deliberately compromised with agents of the ruling party to subvert the mandate of the people”, Anyanwu warned.
He added, “Any fake results released other than the authentic ones, Imo people will not hesitate to reject it to demonstrate their grievances on the conduct of the polls in a peaceful manner”.
Senator Anyanwu insisted that the people of the state would not tolerate a repeat of what transpired during the last presidential and national assembly elections, advising the commission to redeem its image by announcing transparent and authentic results.
The former governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON has condemned what he called “the desperation of Senator Hope Uzodinma and his All Progressives Congress, APC to subvert democracy in the State Assembly elections”.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Chibuike Onyeukwu, the erstwhile deputy speaker called the entire process “The horrible incident at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Aboh Mbaise LGA, where security agencies, in connivance with some compromised personnel of the Commission, carted away electoral materials can best be described as a rape of democracy”.
Ihedioha went further, “This is no doubt a state sponsored wickedness and determination to execute an evil plot.
“We will not be surprised if this morning a man that was roundly rejected by the people of Aboh Mbaise, including his polling unit, is declared winner just to satisfy Uzodinma’s ego to humiliate Ihedioha, for defeating him in the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
It is on record that the candidate of the PDP, Ugochukwu Amuchie, convincingly won the election by a very wide margin in the 11 out of the 12 wards of Aboh Mbaise LGA”.
Ihedioha concluded, “Regrettably this is the same tale of horror, daylight rigging, voter intimidation, and manipulation of the electoral process, across the local government areas in Imo State”.
In Enugu State, there were complaints by the electorate that the results announced by INEC never represented the wishes of the people.
Amaka Igbokwe is a trader at the Holy Ghost Market, Enugu State. She alleged that what transpired in the area where she voted was nothing but an aberration. She said, “The fact is that what took place in Enugu State during the governorship and house of assembly elections was unimaginable. It was shameful and unacceptable. Voters were intimidated and suppressed. There were vote buying and total manipulation and swapping”.
A report from a Labour Party, LP, media team, Chizoba Ebogu, also indicated that Dr Alex Otti of the LP, based on the results collated so far, was coasting home to victory but there were concerns about possible subversion.
According to the news feed, “Now apart from the three LGAs of Umuahia North and South, with Ohafia earlier taken by Labour Party, we have fresh reports of Aba North and South local governments now in the kitty of Alex Otti.
“Umunneochi, Isiukwuato as well are confirmed by my sources at INEC. So all together, there are a total of seven local governments so far won by Alex Oti’s Labour Party. And with ten to go, it will soon be party time. We have instructed all our agents and field men to lay siege on INEC from now onwards till results are declared.
“All our various partners and CUPP are to keep vigil on INEC and the results. The Conference of United Political Parties will also resist signing the results sheets in the unexpected event of INEC starting any evil dance. Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving service in the entire Abia state. A new dawn beckons”.
There were reports that the PDP chairman beaten up in Ebonyi State yesterday had died. Ebonyi State was also a battle ground where most of the opposition party members were either intimidated or cowed by security agencies in favour of the ruling party in the state.
It was indeed a mixed reactions of knocks and kudos for INEC and the security agencies as many of the voters in South East condemn what they called the nefarious activities of both of the federal government bodies even as others commend them concerning the conduct and outcome of the March 18, 2023 governorship, house of assembly elections.