Anambra on Tenterhooks as Governorship Poll Result is Delayed

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Despite early conclusion of collation at polling units, state collation centre yet to receive result as at 4am today Election largely peaceful, large voter turnout in spite of IPOB’s threat

Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Christopher Isiguzo, David Eleke and Amby Uneze in Awka

The people of Anambra State went to bed last night with bated breath following the non-announcement of the winner of Saturday’s governorship election. The election which held in over 4000 polling units scattered across the 21 local government areas of the state, was largely peaceful and witnessed a large voter turnout, despite threats by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), which had earlier called for a boycott of the poll.

Though accreditation and voting were done simultaneously at the polling units, with collation of results concluded before 6pm in most polling centres, no result had arrived at the State INEC office, which is the state collation centre, as at 4am Sunday, a clear departure from the trend in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections held months ago.

37 political parties fielded candidates in yesterday’s election but five were considered major contenders because of their political platforms and the perceived strength of the candidates. These include incumbent Governor Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Oseloka Obaze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Tony Nwoye of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Chidoka of the United Progressive Party (UPP), and Mr. Godwin Ezeemo of the Progressive People Alliance (PPA). The candidates won their respective polling units.

The headquarters of INEC in Awka, located along House of Assembly Road, near Ekwueme Square, remained heavily manned by a combined team of soldiers, mobile policemen and DSS operatives waiting for results from local government area collation centres to arrive. Also keeping vigil at the INEC office were anxious journalists. But as at 4am, none of the results had arrived neither were any of the key officials of INEC present.

Results announced by INEC officials at some polling units monitored by THISDAY correspondents earlier on Saturday, showed that the ruling party in the state, APGA, led in several of the polling units. APC and PDP also had impressive showing.

At Agulu town in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, two political gladiators, former Governor Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh from rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) respectively, recorded victory in their polling units. At Amatutu polling unit in Agulu , where Peter Obi voted, PDP won with 145, while APGA scored 40 , UPP 1, and APC 5 votes. Similarly, at the Uzuanunu polling unit in Agulu Uzo-Igbo in Anaocha LGA., Umeh’s APGA won with 68 votes followed by APC 8, PDP 1 and NCP 1.

At Nkwo Ide public square 1 in Idemili North, where APC chieftain and former governor of Anambra state, Dr Chris Ngige, voted, APC scored 35 votes followed by APGA and PDP that scored 12 and 6 votes respectively.

At Umudim Ward 2, where Chukwuemeka and Bianca Ojukwu voted, APGA scored 261 votes, APC 98 and PDP 80 votes.

The governorship election on a general note took off in all the polling units across the state in good time amidst large turnout of voters. A number of polling units visited by the THISDAY correspondents in Awka, Onitsha, Agulu, Nsugbe and Aguleri areas showed that voting and accreditation started simultaneously as early as 8 am. Some voters interviewed by THISDAY said that officials of INEC arrived at 8am to commence the business of the day.

There were also complaints of missing names in the register and this caused anxiety among the voters who were anxious to perform their civic duty.

Governor Willie Obiano voted in his Eri Ward 4, Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area at 9:57am. The governor said the card reader failed to capture his fingerprint and expressed fears that it might have happened in other polling units thereby disefranchising the people. The governor also told reporters that there was violence in Ihiala area.

He said: “My voter’s card was scanned but my fingerprint could not be accessed.”

Obiano explained that the card reader could not read his fingerprints, but he was able to vote because his voter’s card was verified by the device.

“My card was verified but they said they couldn’t read my fingerprints,” he said.

On his part, the candidate of PDP, Mr Oseloka Obaze, while reacting to allegation of vote-buying , absolved his party of such acts.

The candidate who voted at exactly 1:40pm at his Ogbaru Primary School, Ochuche ward 006, polling unit 001 said he intentionally stayed back until afternoon so as to give the people chance to vote, as he was more interested in his people being served first. He said he heard allegation of vote buying, but said that his party was not involved. He said he was confident that if the process was credible, he would emerge winner.

Obaze expressed satisfaction with the level of security and the conduct of the security agents, while also saying that he cannot discredit the process until his agents have collated reports in diverse parts of the state.

“I cannot react to that now. I do not have the statistics with which to furnish you with, but reports are still trickling in, and I believe that if the process is right I will win the election.”

In Nsugbe, Dr. Tony Nwoye of APC accused the Police of colluding with APGA to rig the election. Nwoye who spoke to journalists after casting his vote at about 12 noon at Ilo Abito Square in Nsugbe Ward 1 Unit 2, was however optimistic that he would emerge winner.

He commended INEC for ensuring that election materials arrived on time. But the National chairman of APGA who spoke to journalists last night, long after voting had ended, said that result collated from polling units showed that the party’s candidate, Willie Obiano, has won.

He said, “I have a situation room here in my house, and from the results collated so far from the various polling units across the state, we have won. “I already said it before in a press interview that after listening to INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, during the stakeholders’ meeting that I was sure he would conduct a credible election.

“What I am saying is that nothing short of the results collated from units would be accepted. It is not possible for them to declare a contrary result.

“I am confident that we have already won this election.”

On their part, former National chairman of APGA, Chief Umeh, and Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election, noting that reports from the field showed their party was maintaining a commanding lead.

On the decision of the people to defy IPOB’s threat participate in the election enmasse, Umeh said it was based on their appeal that people should ignore calls for boycott as it would not be in the interest of the people of Anambra State.

“We are happy that Ndi Anambra heeded our appeal to come out in their numbers,” he said.

On his part, former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Dozie Ikedife, whose son is the APC gubernatorial running mate, faulted the arrangement at the polling units, saying that voters did not enjoy enough privacy while exercising their franchise.