Athan Achonu, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the November 11, 2023 election in Imo State, and scores of his supporters on Thursday stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to demand for the true certified copy of the just concluded poll in the state.
Achonu, who was accompanied by the LP National Youth Leader, Kennedy Ahanotu, also accused the electoral umpire of playing a double standard in the November 11 off-cycle election.
Ripples Nigeria reports that the protest is coming two weeks after INEC declared Governor Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election.
The APC candidate polled 540,308 votes to beat Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 71,503 votes and Achonu who could only secure 64,081 votes.
The protest, which saw the demonstrators chanting solidarity songs and displaying various banners that read “INEC Give Us Our CTC” “Respect Our Law” and “INEC Has Become Headache to Nigerian People” caused a mild gridlock.
Achonu, who addressed newsmen in front of the INEC building, accused the commission of deliberately refusing to give him a copy of the Imo poll CTC because they had something to hide.
The LP candidate also stated that unlike what transpired in Bayelsa where it took three days to round up the election process, INEC collated Imo ballots and hurriedly announced the result in two hours.
The LP candidate said: “When collation started after the voting, our state election agent duly asked INEC not to announce any result that collation started very early that day even when voting was going on. They were even uploading results on iREV when voting was taking place. So how did that happen? They were told to go to their backend server and confirm the result they were about to announce. But INEC refused to do that. The returning insisted they should go on because they had a hidden agenda.
“Meanwhile it took Bayelsa which has just eight local governments almost three days to announce their result. But in Imo which has 27 local governments, it took them just two hours to announce the result that was already uploaded.
“So we duly wrote to INEC asking them to review the election. They hurriedly announced the result, even before the seven days allowed for review lapsed. Up till today when we are speaking, we have not received the certified copy of that result despite writing them officially. We will not leave here today until we collect the CTC since INEC has refused to come out and address us.”
Two INEC national commissioners, Mohammed Haruna and Prof Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, however came out to address the protesters, urging them to exercise patience and promising them their grievance would be addressed by the commission in earnest.
“We understand you have come here with a petition. The national chairman (Prof Yakubu Mahmood) asked the two of us to come here on his behalf on behalf to receive your petition. And I assure you (it will be addressed because this is your right.
“The CTC you requested is always collected at the state level. So we have a copy of your letter here now, I assure you it will attended to,” Haruna stated.
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