The Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having a sleepless night and sensing defeat in the March 18 governorship election has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to stop its ongoing audit of BVAS results from Obingwa local government area and go ahead to accept it.
Labour Party which has maintained a clear lead after winning in 11 out of 17 local government areas had alleged over-voting in Obingwa, calling for audit of the BVAS result.
While the results from 16 local governments have been collated, that of Obingwa the home local government of the outgoing governor Okezie Ikpeazu was suspended by the INEC after its office in the local government was invaded and staff taken hostage.
Hon. Elder Abraham Amah, Abia PDP VIce Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary in a statement on Tuesday called on INEC to stop further audit of the BVAS result in the local government, saying agents of the party were shut out in the audit process.
He insists that the impartiality of INEC has come under question, calling on the commission to put a halt to further auditing of result in Obingwa.
He said, “Abia PDP is constrained to state in very unequivocal terms that the impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in the ongoing coalition of the 2023 Abia governorship election results is very questionable because of recent decisions it has taken to favour a particular party.
“In the process of the collation of results, the Labour Party prayed the INEC to audit the BIVAS accreditation of Obingwa Local Government Area, which INEC graciously granted and has already started the audit exercise but unfortunately in the absence of PDP agents. The PDP agents have been shut out of the process while Labour Party agents are involved.
“But to the chagrin of the PDP, its request for INEC to subject the results of six local government areas of Aba North, Aba South, Umuahia North, Umuahia South, Osisioma and Arochukwu has been blatantly rejected by INEC which is a clear case of partiality on the part of INEC in favour of the Labour Party.
“We are compelled to ask INEC to stop forthwith the BIVAS audit for Obingwa because the audit exercise is going on without the PDP agents while the agents of Labour Party have been granted access. This is nothing but daylight robbery as the process is eminently compromised to favor a particular candidate.
“We are by this press release calling on INEC to stop the BIVAS audit of Obingwa and admit PDP agents into the exercise and also give the PDP time to fly in its IT experts from the UK since the audit is one that requires the technical competence of IT experts which is not readily available here.
“In an electoral case of this nature, the best an impartial umpire should do and which are calling on INEC to do immediately is to announce the results as they are and subject them to the judiciary for final adjudication.
“We also warn INEC to be mindful of the legal implications of tampering with the BIVAS machines without a judicial clearance as this is clearly against the Electoral Act.
“We are dismayed that INEC went ahead to appoint Prof. Nnenna Otti a first cousin of Alex Otti, one of the candidates in the Abia guber election as the Returning Officer even when we had raised an objection to that through a petition. Again, it is curious that INEC had previously made changes at the lower cader of election officers when such matters were raised but refused to act on the petition raised at the highest level. This is one of the many points that point to the fact that INEC is acting out a script which has a predetermined end.
“As an umpire, INEC should be neutral and maintain its independence as an institution that was created to midwife and nurture the growth of Nigeria’s democracy. Its recent behaviour is destructive to our democracy and will only serve to reverse the gains made in the past 24 years.
“The Abia PDP warns that any attempt to subvert the popular will of the people by glaringly compromising the electoral process in favour of a particular candidate will not be accepted by the good people of Abia State.
“We call on the good people of Abia State to remain calm and peaceful because we know that justice will prevail at the end.”