The member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency, Hon. Sam Onuigbo, has decried alleged attempts by people he described as ‘some forces’ to hijack his victory at the Abia Central senatorial primaries of the All Progressive Congress, APC which took place on Sunday in Umuahia.
Onuigbo who spoke on Tuesday frowned at the claims and media reports that the exercise was stalemated whereas he secured the highest number of votes, and ought to have been declared winner of the contest, a Vanguard report says.
The lawmaker insisted that having secured 157 votes ahead of his rival, Chief Henry Ikoh’s 152 votes, “it is no longer in doubt who the winner and of the primaries and APC candidate is: it’s Sam Onuigbo!”
His words: ”This is a simple case of one winner and one loser. The winner is Hon. Sam Onuigbo and the loser is Chief Henry Ikoh.”
The exercise which was originally scheduled for Saturday was about commencing when it was suddenly postponed to Sunday by the Returning Officer without explanations.
But after voting on Sunday the exercise was carried over to Monday where the results were announced but contested by Ikoh.
”The ballot papers were counted in his presence. I wasn’t even there but my agents were there. They were all there with the party officials and the Returning Officer counted the results and I scored 157 votes and Ikoh got 152 votes.
”But even before then, the party Chairman, Dr Kingsley Ononogbu, had advised that everyone should exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship and accept the outcome of the exercise. He said that anybody that has a disagreement with the outcome should approach the appeal panel.
”So, for them to now start acting otherwise, it’s obvious they are playing a script.”
The lawmaker accused some party officials of preventing the Returning Officer from declaring him winner for reasons best known to them.
”If the Returning Officer failed to declare any winner at the end it was because the party officials put pressure on him. Even the Chairman who had earlier said anybody who emerged victorious should be congratulated by his brother, now started saying they were going to contact the national office. They started rigmaroling in sharp contrast to what they had earlier said.
”The Returning Officer was put under pressure when he was supposed to declare the winner. They started shouting and creating confusion in the place with the party Secretary Chief Chidi Ovuaja jumping into the fray, saying they should not declare the result alleging overvoting.
”Is he the Returning Officer? It is the business of the Returning Officer to deal with the issue of election and declare the result.”
Asked if he had reached out to the national leadership of APC to complain about the alleged infractions, Rep. Onuigbo said: ” I have won and I have won convincingly”.
”I have won despite the fact that my opponent carried delegates from three Local Government Areas and quartered them in his house for two days so that they can vote for him. He admitted to this before the Returning Officer. Despite all that he still lost.
”The drama they are trying to create is just for their own entertainment.”
Rep. Onuigbo insisted that he is the APC candidate for Abia Central senatorial district in the 2023 election despite any claims by anybody.
”This primary election has come and gone. I expect the National office to do the right thing. Now that I have won, I should be declared the winner particularly if they want to win the 2023 election.
”The National leadership should not support acts that are unwholesome in an election that was keenly contested and clearly won. It’s unfair to do things capable of creating doubts in the minds of party faithful and electorates”.
When contacted, the APC Chairman in the state, Dr. Ononogbu, said he was not bothered about whatever allegations were being leveled against him by anybody.
He said that the election was declared inconclusive by the Chairman of the Election Committee, adding that he had since transmitted the declaration to the national leadership of the party, and awaiting further directives.
His words: ”I don’t care what anybody says. The election has been declared inconclusive by the Chairman of the Electoral Committee sent by our National office based on his judgement.
”I have written to the National leadership about that, and I await further directives. Once I get it, I act on it!”
Earlier in an interview with Vanguard, Chief Ikoh had alleged that there was overvoting, insisting that nobody had been or should be declared winner until the issue of over-voting was resolved.
The former Commissioner for Industry said the exercise would be re-scheduled.
When contacted also, the Returning Officer, Mr. Izuchukwu Okeke, had said he was unable to declare the winner following the contention over alleged over-voting.
He said that he was still awaiting directives from the National leadership of the party to resolve the matter.
Asked if there was no proper accreditation of delegates before voting commenced, Okeke said there was accreditation but added that the discrepancy came from one of the LGAs which had less than the number of wards initially allocated to it.
Following the withdrawal of Senator Nkechi Nwogu from the race a day earlier, the became an all-Ikwuano affair between Onuigbo and Ikoh.
The duo belongs to the Ononogbu-led faction APC which has Chief Ikechi Emenike as its governorship candidate.