‘People’s mandate shall stand’, INEC returning officer declares as collation resumes in Abia

The final collation of governorship election results on Wednesday afternoon resumed in Umuahia, the Abia State over 48 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suspended the exercise in the South-East state.

The Administrative Secretary of the electoral commission in the state, Clement Oha berated political parties for blackmailing the commission.

Also, INEC’s Returning Officer in the state, Prof Nnenna Nnannaya-Oti said she will do the right of the people and protect democratic values.

“I shall stand squarely and unapologetically on these principles. The people’s votes and mandate shall stand.

“The pastor and the mother in me will not permit me to do anything that will adversely affect the future of our children,” said Nnannaya-Oti, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

 Alex Otti of the Labour Party (LP), Ikechi Emenike of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) are top contenders in the race to succeed the incumbent governor and PDP G5 member, Okezie Ikpeazu, whose two terms of eight years end on May 29, 2023.

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Some results of the 17 local governments areas were already announced before the suspension of collation on Monday.

On Monday, while the collation of results was ongoing in Abia and Enugu, INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye announced the suspension of the process in the two South-East states with the strong presence of the Labour Party.

Okoye said, “It will be recalled that our office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday Sunday 19th March 2023 and our officials were held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area. Similarly, reports from Enugu State call for a review of the results of the Governorship election from the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Nsukka and Nkanu East.

“Consequently, the Commission hereby suspends the collation of results in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Enugu State which are yet to be collated. A review will be undertaken immediately before the process is concluded.”

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Meanwhile, LP’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, in a statement, raised the alarm, saying there is an ongoing plot to upturn the results of the governorship elections in Abia and Enugu but the party will resist it because “enough is enough”.

Similarly, the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in a statement, frowned upon the “continued delay” in the release of the governorship results of Abia and Enugu states and charged INEC to “accelerate action”.

With the results of 24 out of the 28 governorship elections already announced by the electoral umpire and winners declared, the LP’s hopes to produce a governor or governors hang delicately on Enugu and Abia — which are two of the four remaining states where winners are yet to be declared by INEC. Governorship elections in Kebbi and Adamawa were declared inconclusive.

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