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Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has thrown a challenge to the returning officer for the 18th of March governorship election in the state, Professor Nnenna Oti, to reveal the names of those who bullied and attempted to bribe her during the collation of the election results in Umuahia as she claimed.
He noted that the returning officer betrayed actually his confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through her actions during and after the election.
The Eastern Updates reports that Oti, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO), Imo State, claimed that she was bullied but refused to be intimidated before and during the collation of results in Umuahia, Abia State capital.
The governor, who threw the challenge in a chat with journalists in Umuahia, alleged that Oti clearly came to execute 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, Dr. Alex Otti, through her actions after the election, a contradiction of what was expected of the neutrality of INEC officials.
Ikpeazu also said he had expressed some fears about the returning officer to the INEC authorities but was assured that they had confidence in her.
The governor also denied meeting or having contact 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, but I’m aware that if she came to do the right thing, she has no right to change anything. In fact, she has no right to even reject results, because those results were generated from the polling units and wards.
‘Her celebration is unfortunate and unbecoming of somebody who was given that kind of responsibility at that level,’ he said.
Ikpeazu further dismissed allegations that the collation of results was disrupted in Obingwa Local Government Area. He stated that his investigations revealed that there was a plot to cancel all results from Obingwa LGA, which was resisted by youths of the area.
The governor alleged that the refusal to collate results at the ward level and attempt to move the collation centre to Umuahia angered the youths of the area.
He said: ‘I’m not aware of the hostage-taking of any electoral officer in Obingwa LGA. I visited the area, but before I got there, the Commissioner of Police in charge of election in Abia South was there. Also, the Police Area Commander for Aba was there. The DSS was there. And when these high-ranking officers of these agencies go to such places, they do so with a retinue of their men.
‘In fact, there was an armoured personnel carrier manned by soldiers stationed at the local government headquarters. There couldn’t have been a report of holding any election staff hostage. There is a limit to what I can say because the matter is already at the election petition tribunal.