Due to the suspension of election results, protests have broken out in Abia State. The populace is pleading with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to proclaim a winner for the 2023 gubernatorial election.
Both Labour Party and People’s Democratic Party supporters turned up in large numbers to protest the withholding of results and called for the declaration of their respective candidates as the winners of the election held on Saturday. Alex Otti, the Labour Party’s candidate for the governorship election, was said to be ahead in 10 of the 16 local governments, with a margin of 95,618 votes putting him in the lead.
In the Obingwa LGA, which has a voter population of 154,000 but only avout 24,000 accredited voters, the people await the final compilation of the results.
Yet, it has been claimed that members of the community have vowed to set fire to homes and start a riot if Okey Ahiwe, the PDP candidate, is not declared winner.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, Sonny Iroche, the convener and head of the Abia League of Professionals Initiative, condemned these threats and claimed that they are a result of Nigeria’s ineffective security bodies and measures.
He argued that, rather than causing the election to be thrown into disarray, the outcome of the election should be decided solely by the votes of the electorate and not by justices of the court.
He urged INEC to act morally and proclaim a winner, not allowing the populace to be driven to violence, in order to restore peace to Abia State and end rumours and suspicions.
“I had a broadcast yesterday calling on Abians to be patient, peaceful and not to be violent. They should never take the laws into their own hands but then, INEC has to do the right thing. You don’t push the people to the wall.”
In the same interview, Hon. U. S. A. Igwesi, former member of the Federal House of Representatives, expressed shock and disappointment from INEC in their delay to announce Peter Ndubuisis Mbah of the PDP as the winner of the 2023 Enugu gubernatorial election. He told interviewers that all LGAs in Enugu are also protesting for the release results of Saturday’s election and have no plans to back down until their demands are met.
“They are legally empowered to announce the result. At this stage, there is nothing they can do about it because section 64, subsection 8 of the Electoral Act of 2022 says that, at this stage, INEC can no longer suspend and withhold announcement and declaration of that result.”
Peter Mbah won in 9 LGAs while his LP opponent,Chijoke Edeoga holds 8 LG wins with two local governments left to be concluded; Nkanu and Nsuka LGAs.
INEC has blamed the delay on flaws in the process, voter intimidation, and a lack of BVA use in the LGs.
According to Hon. Igwesi, INEC should declare the results and let the parties resolve any discrepancies that may occur through legal action.