Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has challenged the Returning Officer for the March 18 governorship election in the state, Professor Nnenna Oti, to name those who bullied and attempted to bribe her during the collation of election results in Umuahia. He stated that the returning officer betrayed his confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through her actions during and after the election.
Oti, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO), Imo State, has been telling stories of how she was bullied but refused to be intimidated before and during the collation of results in Umuahia. The Governor, who threw the challenge in a chat with journalists in Umuahia, alleged that Oti clearly came to execute to a ‘hatchet job’ against the PDP in the state considering her utterances after the election.
He also accused Oti of participating in the victory dance of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Alex Otti, through her actions after the election in contradiction of the expected neutrality of INEC officials. Ikpeazu said he had expressed some fears about Oti to the INEC authorities but was assured that they have confidence in her. He also denied meeting or having contacts with the returning officer and accused her of making too much noise out of nothing.
He said; “I wish I knew those who bullied her. I think she has been making too much noise out of nothing. The returning officer’s duty is essentially to tally results already collated from the wards through the local government and declare them. She can’t change results because she has no right to do that unless she went ahead and did something like that. But her reactions have betrayed the fact that she was overly excited about something.
“When you come to that kind of position dispassionately, whatever the outcome should not excite you. But the victory dance she participated in and her statements which are akin to confessions have betrayed the fact that she came for a hatchet job. It could be to reject or accept some results. I want the world to know that she is celebrating what she has no right to do. I have never met her before; I don’t have her telephone number.”
On vehicular and cash gifts which have been donated to the returning officer by some highly placed Abians, after the election, Ikpeazu said; “You know that bribe can come before or after the event. If I tell you if you do this or if this is the outcome, this is what you will get, it is an inducement. It is also an incentive to behave in a certain way. So, could this be a fulfillment of a promise that if this is the outcome, this is what will happen? I think it is unprecedented.
“I’m not aware of the hostage-taking of any electoral officer in Obingwa LGA. I visited the area. What the youths of Obingwa LGA did was to say that results must be collated at the LGA headquarters before being taken to Umuahia. I salute their courage because some of the results taken to Umuahia for collation were manipulated and changed at Umuahia. Results must be announced at the units and collated at the wards and brought to the local government for tallying only.”