‘Why Are We In A Hurry?’ Confusion Rocks Imo State Collation Centre

Agents from the opposition parties said the election was marred by voter intimidation, vote buying, and violence, saying they have a petition to submit but the returning officer said it was not in purview to receive petitions.


An aggrieved party agent at the Imo State Collation Centre on Sunday, November 12, 2023

 

Confusion has rocked the Imo State Collation Centre in Owerri, the state capital, as party agents kicked against the “hurried collation” of results for the November 11, 2023 governorship poll.

“Why are we in a hurry to start collation?” some of the party agents protested Sunday midnight. “Party agents are not allowed to express their grievances. The world is watching.”

 

 

However, the state Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the election, Prof Abayomi Fashina, insisted that the collation will proceed.

“Look at the collation results sheet,” the returning officer said, raising a new booklet above the rising voices of dissent by party agents. “So, let’s go ahead, please.”

But a visibly aggrieved party agent stood up and said, “We have a petition to the INEC chairman. Allow us to submit our petition.” The male agent from one of the opposition parties said the election was marred by voter intimidation, vote buying, and violence, saying that voting was not held in some polling units in Imo. He alleged that collation officers at the local government areas (LGAs) “manufactured” results.

The allegation of “manufactured” results was immediately refuted by one of the LGA collation officers even as party agents from the opposition instantly supported their colleague who raised the concerns.

Responding, however, Fashina, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, said, “I don’t have the mandate to receive a petition from anybody.”

“I am the chairman of this collation centre, you don’t talk when I don’t authorise you to talk.”

The collation thereafter started at 02:40 am amid the rowdiness with party agents raising their voices against the returning officer.

Already, results from the 27 local government areas have been collated with Governor Hope Uzodimma sweeping all.

 

At 03:27 am, the returning officer adjourned collation briefly to resolve some of the lingering issues and await results from the other LGAs.

 

 

L-R: Samuel Anyanwu, Hope Uzodimma and Athan Achonu

 

Though 18 parties fielded candidates in the poll, this year’s governorship election in Imo State has been described by analysts as a four-horse race between Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is seeking re-election, Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party’s Achonu Nneji and Jack Ogunewe of the Action Alliance.

 

 

According to INEC, the number of registered voters in the state for the poll was 2, 419,922 with 2,318,919 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected.

Like Imo, governorship elections were held in Kogi and Bayelsa on November 11, 2023, though the collation of results from the two states has been adjourned to Sunday morning.