Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and stakeholders in Abia North, have insisted that the February 25 national assembly poll in the zone was inconclusive.
The CSOs which addressed a press conference Friday in Abuja, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to quickly withdraw the certificate of return it erroneously issued to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and organise a re-run poll in the zone.
Spokesman of the CSOs and stakeholders, Chika Orieji, who stated this at the press conference, explained election did not hold in over 100 polling units in Arochukwu and Ohafia considered strongholds of other candidates in the race.
According to him the number of registered voters in the affected polling units is over 50,000 which is much higher than the margin of lead, hence the need for a return in the affected polling units.
He said it would be injustice to disenfranchise such a huge number of voters for no fault of theirs, and called on INEC to obey its own guidelines.
Orieji further explained that the Collation Officer for the zone had already scheduled a supplementary election in the affected polling units on February 26, when suddenly he purportedly announced Kalu winner of the contest against INEC rules.
He expressed shock at the action of the Collation Officer which he said has been causing tension in the zone.
Reading from a prepared text, the Spokesperson said: “This appeal becomes very necessary following the post-election outcry and protests by indigenes of the Senatorial District on account of massive disenfranchisement and perceived deception as well as compromise by the officials of the electoral commission.
“The report by the accredited INEC election observers, which affirmed that the Senatorial election that took place in Abia North on 25th February 2023, was below the standard and acceptable electoral practice, contrary to INEC Electoral Acts and guidelines and against the wishes of the electorates.
“The INEC returning officer after noticing some irregularities and logistic challenges on election day, announced to the observers and party agents and others in Ohafia, after consultation with the Resident Electoral Officer in Umuahia, that there will be a rerun election on Sunday 26th February 2023, in some places in Abia North where election did not hold, but elections never held till date.
“There was a total violation of electoral guidelines in the conduct of the election in Abia North Senatorial District such as not counting and announcement of results open by the presiding officer at the polling units; failure to post results from polling units and the inability of INEC officials to transmit results online after voting to the INEC Result Viewing, IRev, portal.”
The group further dismissed the efforts by Kalu to be made the Senate President as ridiculous, wondering how a man who claimed that Nigeria was not ripe for Igbo President would be scheming to become Senate President of the same Igbo extraction.
“How can someone who sabotaged and betrayed the wishes of his people be aspiring for the third highest office in the land?”