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Imo Election: Labour Party, PDP Guber Candidates Stage Walkout At INEC Stakeholders’ Meeting

They demanded the removal of the Resident Electoral Officer.

In Imo State on Tuesday, the governorship candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), Senators Samuel Anyanwu and Athan Achonu, respectively, staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by INEC to press home their demand for the redeployment of the state Resident Electoral (REC), Professor Sylva Agu.

The stakeholders’ meeting was organised by INEC as part of its pre-election interactions with the governorship candidates, security agencies, the media, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders. It was chaired by INEC’s National Commissioner representing South-east, Kenneth Ukeagu, who represented Yakubu.

The meeting in Owerri first ran into commotion when Ukeagu, after his opening remarks, ordered journalists to shut their cameras/gadgets and leave the hall.

However, LP’s deputy governorship candidate, Mr. Tony Nwulu, and that of PDP, Jones Onyereri, who represented their flagbearers, and other officials of the opposition political parties vehemently opposed the directive. They argued that the press, as critical stakeholders, could not be excluded from the meeting.

Nwulu asked if the meeting was “a secret cult affair” and alleged that there were plans by INEC to rig the election in favour of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Onyereri, speaking in support of Nwulu, displayed copies of documents he described as fake result sheets posted on the INEC portal during the House of Assembly election in the state.

The session turned rowdy, as supporters of both the ruling and opposition parties rained abuses on each other, with the situation nearly degenerating into fisticuffs.

Order was restored about 20 minutes later, with several stakeholders calling for peace. But hell was let loose again when a chieftain of APC, Macron Nlemigbo, rained abuses on the state chairman of LP, who, in his remarks, maintained the party’s position that a credible, free and fair election could not be guaranteed with Agu as REC.

The abusive remarks by Nlemigbo, which were ignored by Ukeagu, made Nwulu, Onyereri, and their supporters storm out of the hall.

Onyereri told newsmen that he was forced to walk out of the meeting because the INEC commissioner had shown by his body language and actions that he was in bed with the Imo APC

“The PDP is resolute on its demand that the REC, Professor Sylvia Agu, be redeployed, and the refusal of INEC to look into our demand indicates that there is nothing to discuss in this meeting,” he said.

Nwulu also declared that LP walked out of the meeting because they could not trust Ukeagu or the REC, Agu, to conduct a free and fair election.

He added, “By ignoring our request for the deployment of Professor Agu, it is either that the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu, is deaf or compromised, but we do not trust the REC to conduct a free and fair election. You can even hear officials of the APC bragging in the hall that Professor Agu cannot be removed.”

The state chairman of LP, Callistus Ihejiakwa, said the inability of Ukeagu to take charge of the meeting showed that he was already compromised. Ihejiakwa pointed out that the APC chieftain made threats to his life in the hall but was not called to order.

 Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa, Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja and Tony Icheku in Owerri 

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