PDP alleges massive fraud in the Imo by-election and called for the election to be annulled and all documents and votes to be recounted and reconciled with BVAS data

By Emma Ogbuehi

The Imo State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council for the Ngor Okpala State Constituency By-election has rejected the result of the Saturday February 26 poll in the constituency, alleging a massive manipulation of votes by the governor of the state, Hope Uzodinma.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) had been announced the winner of the election which was widely seen as a proxy war between Uzodinma and the 2019 PDP gubernatorial candidate in the state, Emeka Ihedioha, ahead of the election in 2024 governorship in the state.

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In announcing the result, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Amajirionwu Blyden Okanni of the APC the winner against Jeff Nwachukwu of the PDP.

Returning Officer Prof. Ameh Dennis Akor of Alex Ekwueme Ndufu-Alike Federal University in Ebonyi State announced the results to Umuneke at the Ngor-Okpala LGA council headquarters on Sunday morning.

According to him, Amajirionwu, the APC candidate got 9,248 votes to edge out Nwachukwu of the PDP who got 7,071 votes.

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The PDP, however, rejected the result, demanding an outright annulment of the ballot and a recount of the votes. In a statement titled “INEC Must Save Democracy in Imo State”, signed by the state party chairman, Charles Ugwu, the PDP accused Governor Uzodinma of orchestrating election violence and the falsification of election materials to favor the APC candidate.

The PDP also accused Imo State Police Commissioner Hussain Rabiu of partisanship and complicity in manipulating the elections.

The party cited examples of neighborhoods and areas in which it alleged voter fraud. As a solution, he asked the INEC to cancel the election and order a recount of all documents and votes and reconcile them with the BVAS data.

The statement reads as follows:

Gentlemen of the press, we are compelled to address you again in view of the events unfolding around the Ngor Okpala State constituency by-election held on Saturday, February 26, 2022.

By the early hours of election day, residents of Ngor Okpala had started moving en masse to exercise their right to vote and elect their representative to the Imo State Assembly. Unbeknownst to them, Hope Uzodinma and his cronies had secretly hatched an evil plot to prevent the people from exercising their constitutional mandate.

On the eve of the elections, Hope Uzodinma personally mobilized trucks loaded with security agencies – police, DSS, navy, air force armed thugs and Hopism Strike Force to invade Ngor Okpala LGA and sow the seeds of havoc. chaos in the electorate. These armed groups operated freely, mutilating, shooting sporadically, kidnapping INEC personnel and PDP agents, taking away election materials and results sheets. It was a clear case of the declaration of war against the population of Ngor Okpala; an all-out invasion in one of the freest and fairest elections in local government history.

There is an urgent need to highlight and strongly condemn the partisan and complicit actions of the soon to be retired IMO State Police Commissioner, Hussain Rabiu, a known accomplice of Hope Uzodimma. Rabiu led the combined teams of armed thugs, security guards and the Uzodimmas strike force which also provided cover for Uzodinma appointees, Imo State Assembly members and members of the APC House of Representatives, swarmed polling places in most parts of the constituency leaving many half-dead in a pool of their own blood. CP Rabiu also aided in the illegal coercion of collation officers at private residences and at the Sentiero Hotel located along Airport Road.

In more than fifty polling units, out of 193 polling units, election materials were forcibly transported with INEC ad hoc staff taken to Hotel Sentiero along Sam Mbakwe airport road to print the ballots and write the results in favor of the APC.

Here are some of the areas affected by this electoral fraud:

Ward 1—008 & 016

Ward 2 —015

Ward 3—002

Ward 4— 005 and 010

Ward 5 – 002, 006, 011

Ward 6— 001, 003, 007, 008,009, 011

Ward 8— 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 011.

Ward 11—002, 004, 010 & 012 and many more.

It is pertinent to note that there was massive and unimaginable intimidation of voters in ALL polling booths in the 11 wards of Ngor Okpalla using uniformed police officers attached to the IALA President and his colleagues who beat opposition party men and party agents, chased them away and openly engaged in vote buying and inducement contrary to Articles 128 (a&b) of the recently signed electoral law.

These desperate criminal acts clearly contravene the provisions of articles 25 to 60 of the electoral law as amended.

We therefore strongly condemn the unprofessional and anti-democratic conduct of these state institutions and their agents which is an affront to the integrity of the new electoral law.

It is important for Nigerians to note the ruthless impunity perpetrated by Hope Uzodinma, the illegitimate occupier of Douglas House. It is common knowledge that Uzodinma, in his criminal desperation to assume power in the state, inflicted a very deep cut on our democracy. This time his antics will fail. This new low has made it indisputable that democracy is in jeopardy in Imo State, and it cannot happen.

We therefore call on the CENI to:

1. Rightly cancel the Saturday, February 26, 2022, by-election in Ngor Okpala, as any outcome of such a barbaric invasion and war will only reflect the manipulations of Hope Uzodinma and his band of election fraudsters, not the will of Ngor The inhabitants of Okpala.

2. We request the INEC to order an immediate recount of all documents and votes and reconcile them with the BVAS data. We further call on INEC to lead its HOD Ops Fidelis Uguru to ensure safety and security of all materials and data deployed in the Ngor Okpala by-election to ensure a thorough recount as any history of loss of material or destruction of material will prove the persistent suspicions of compromise on the part of the commission.

3. We call INEC to take steps to immediately arrest and prosecute all those involved in this heist, in accordance with election law, and save our democracy both inside and outside the state.

This election is a serious compromise in every detail. We reiterate our call for a total cancellation.