The governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Athan Achonu, staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Naija News reports that INEC organised the stakeholders’ meeting on Tuesday in Owerri, the state capital, as part of its pre-election interactions with the governorship candidates, security agencies, the media, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.
Trouble started when INEC’s National Commissioner representing South East, Kenneth Ukeagu, ordered journalists to shut their cameras and leave the hall after his opening remarks.
However, LP’s deputy governorship candidate, Tony Nwulu, and that of PDP, Jones Onyereri, who represented their flagbearers, and other officials of the opposition political parties vehemently opposed the directive.
Speaking, Nwulu argued that the press, as critical stakeholders, could not be excluded from the meeting, asking if the meeting was “a secret cult affair”.
The PDP chieftain, however, alleged that there were plans by INEC to rig the election in favour of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Onyereri, speaking in support of Nwulu, displayed copies of documents he described as fake result sheets posted on the INEC portal during the House of Assembly election in the state.
The session turned rowdy as supporters of both the ruling and opposition parties rained abuses on each other, with the situation nearly degenerating into fisticuffs. Order was restored about 20 minutes later, with several stakeholders calling for peace.
But hell was let loose again when a chieftain of APC, Macron Nlemigbo, rained abuses on the state chairman of LP, who, in his remarks, maintained the party’s position that a credible, free and fair election could not be guaranteed with Agu as REC.
The abusive remarks by Nlemigbo, which Ukeagu ignored, made Nwulu, Onyereri, and their supporters storm out of the hall.
Onyereri told newsmen that he was forced to leave the meeting because the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor Sylva Agu, had shown by his body language and actions that he was in bed with the Imo APC.
He, therefore, pressed home the PDP’s demand for the immediate redeployment of Agu.
“The PDP is resolute on its demand that the REC, Professor Sylvia Agu, be redeployed, and the refusal of INEC to look into our demand indicates that there is nothing to discuss in this meeting,” he said.
Nwulu also declared that LP walked out of the meeting because they could not trust Ukeagu or Agu to conduct a free and fair election.
Story continues below advertisement
He added, “By ignoring our request for the deployment of Professor Agu, it is either that the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu, is deaf or compromised, but we do not trust the REC to conduct a free and fair election. You can even hear officials of the APC bragging in the hall that Professor Agu cannot be removed.”
© 2023 Naija News, a division of Polance Media Inc.