By Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Mao Ohuabunwa, was on Sunday declared the winner of the Abia North Senatorial re-run election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after he defeated his closest rival, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu of Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA).
INEC’s Returning Officer for the election, Dr Ojike Nwankwo, said Ohuabunwa polled 26,009 votes to confine Kalu to the second position with 25,814 votes while the candidate of the All Progressives grand Alliance (APGA), Chief David Ogba Onuoha finished third with 13,633 votes.
The candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Nwanna Okoro and Chief Oji Nwachukwu of the Labour Party (LP) polled 976 votes and 147 votes respectively.
According to the Returning Officer, Ohuabunwa having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the poll held on Saturday was duly elected Senator to represent Abia North.
There was an element of drama in the declaration of the result as the Returning Officer had earlier declared the poll inconclusive after an all night collation only to come back later on Sunday to announce Ohuabunwa the winner.
Explaining the twist the Head, Education and Publicity, INEC, Mr. Edwin Enabor, said that Dr Nwankwo acted in error by declaring the election inconclusive.
“The returning officer erroneously declared the re-run election inconclusive. This was wrong (because) in a re-run election, a winner must emerge by simple majority,” he said.
Ohuabunwa was already representing Abia North in the Senate having been declared winner of the March 28, 2015 National Assembly election but the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri nullified his mandate and ordered for rerun.
Expectedly the result of the rerun election has elicited mixed reactions from the political parties that participated in the poll depending on how the outcome favoured them.
While the state chairman of APGA, Rev Augustine Ehiemere kicked against the result, describing it as “all fraud and unacceptable to us”, his PDP counterpart, Senator Emma Nwaka said that his party was happy that its candidate has won.
According to him, Ohuabunwa’s victory was an affirmation that he was duly given the mandate by the people of Abia North in the National Assembly election of last year.
He lashed the Returning officer for the senatorial rerun poll, saying that he should not have earlier declared the rerun poll as inconclusive.