by Deji Abiodun
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for declaring the governorship election in the state inconclusive and announcing supplementary elections in some wards across the state.
The governor, who spoke to journalists at the Government House, Owerri, early Monday, said the supplementary election would have been unnecessary if the electoral commission had considered the number of Permanent Voters Card distributed in the affected areas instead of the number of registered voters.
Though Mr. Okorocha recognised the provision of the electoral law in respect of the number of registered voters, he said INEC should have considered distribution of PVC in the affected areas instead of registered voters as only voters with PVC can vote.
“The electoral act has talked about registered voters and in the workings of that act and in the spirit of the law, you cannot not make use of number of registered voters, you have to make use of number of PVC collected.
“When you look at the number of PVC collected you find out that there is no need for this supplementary election because the number of PVC collected will be less than the 79,000 votes difference between me and the PDP candidate. But now they are basing on the number of registered voters. Number of registered voters do not cast the vote; it is the number of PVC collected that does”, he explained.
Okorocha, however, said he was ready to participate in the supplementary election and in fact went ahead to claim victory in the election.
“You can only change the date of a burial but you cannot change the burial. From the results available, the fact speaks for itself, we have won this election despite all the irregularities”, the governor asserted.
The INEC Returning Officer of the State, Prof. Ibidapo Obe, announced that the election was inconclusive because the margin (79,529) between Mr. Okorocha, who is seeking re-election on the platform of All Progressives Congress and his contender, Emeka Ihedioha of Peoples Democratic Party, was less than the number of registered voters (144,715) in wards across the state where elections did not hold or were cancelled due to irregularities. Mr. Obe said a new date would be announced for a supplementary election soon.
Beaming with confidence, Mr. Okorocha said he was in fact ready for the total re-run of the election if INEC deemed it necessary and guaranteed that if conducted free and fair, the PDP flag bearer would not score up to 100,000 votes.
“Let me say that there is no basis for comparison when I’m told that I’m in contest with the PDP candidate and he scored some votes it is not true. I think I’m in contest with more unseen elements than the candidate himself. If this election is conducted in the way it should be conducted in a free and fair manner, my opponent would have up to 100,000 votes? Never. Not in Imo State; not at all”, he boasted.
Gov. Okorocha said he would have won the election with a landslide if his contender, abetted by the security agencies, had not perpetrated widespread electoral fraud.
“If you look at what has happened in his areas of jurisdiction and his local government, Mbaise local government, Ahiazu, Ezinnite, Aboh Mbaise, where he gave himself almost 80,000 votes. Can you imagine in Aboh Mbaise, you have 51,000 voters when the actual PVC collected is about 60,000 and in Mbaitoli where you have over 100,000 PVC collected the total votes there is about 30,000 so that tells you the manipulation. What we saw in those areas was simply the militarisation of the entire process – snatching of ballot boxes and violence and what have you.
“But because of these manipulations and writing of results and taking result sheets and going to somebody’s house – escorted by security agencies- to write the result and come in the private car to INEC headquarters, that is why many people think there is a contest. So I’m not in contest with that gentle man, I’m in contest with the entire manipulation of the system and the election”, he said.