Otti wants to grab power at all costs –


Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Part (PDP) at the April governorship election says Alex Otti, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is “desperate to grab power at all costs”. Ikpeazu was declared winner of the election, held on April 12 and 26, after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said he polled 264,713 to defeat Otti, who polled 180,882 votes. But after the election petition tribunal upheld his victory, saying Otti and APGA did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had won, the appeal court overturned it, citing substantial non-compliance with the electoral law. In its judgement, the five-member panel, headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, faulted the cancellation of election results in Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa local governments by the returning officers after the results had been uploaded to INEC.

“In the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer has the right to only declare results of elections and not to cancel elections,” it said. “This panel discovered that the earlier results uploaded to INEC headquarters correspond with the correct valid registered voters in the three LGAs, while that awarded to the respondent, shows over-voting and is therefore null and void.” On Thursday, Ikpeazu, who has since expressed disappointment with the judgement, criticised Otti for his desperation for power.

Speaking through Godwin Adindu, his chief press secretary who met journalists in Lagos, Ikpeazu described the appeal court ruling as “a rape of justice”, urging “the entire world” to rise up to condemn the “judicial rascality and brigandage” of the appeal court judges. “Recall that before they commenced sitting, the PDP in Abia had raised alarm over the constitution of the judges. All the five judges came from one judicial Division – Lagos. This was against the tradition in selecting judges of the Appeal Court. Lagos is where the APGA candidate lives and does business. PDP expressed fear of a possible compromise,” he said. “The Appeal Court judges have trifled with the lives and destiny of over 6 million Abians. And what they did would have launched the state into anarchy if not for the calm and peaceful disposition of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. But, let me state here that Abia State is not for sale and nobody should trifle with the destiny of the people.

“All the people involved in this grand conspiracy to cause havoc in Abia and drag the state into anarchy and bloodshed should stay clear of Abia.” Noting that the judgement had sparked off series of massive protest in Abia state, he said: “On Saturday, 2nd Jan, Ukwa Ngwa men led by former Senate President, Adolp Wabara and Chief Gershion Amuta, led a massive street protest that grounded activities in Aba. “On Monday, 4th, Ukwa Ngwa women, in what looked like the re-enactment of the Aba women riot of 1929, worn black attires and marched on the streets of Aba and also brought the city to a halt. “On Tuesday, 5th, Jan, members of the Abia Renion marched on the streets of Umuahia and ended at the Govt House. It has been a weeklong protest and there seem to be no end to it as many groups are warming up for their own action.” He wondered how an appellate court could disenfranchise three local governments and disenfranchise (one-third) of Abia state electorates, how it could even disenfranchise the governor and deny him his own right to his vote, how it could have ordered INEC to swear-in Otti immediately after their pronouncement, knowing that there was still a window of 14 days within which the governor could appeal to the supreme court. “Are they saying that the about 400,000 electorates of Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa North are no more Nigerians who have the right to exercise their voting right?” Adindu queried.

“In Obingwa Local Govt, the local council of the Governor, APGA did not have candidates for the House of Assembly in the two state constituencies. So who could have mobilised or monitored votes for APGA in Obingwa? At worst scenario, if the appeal court judges were able to establish cases of irregularities in the three local councils, the fairest thing should have been to order for a re-run. When INEC ordered for a re-run in some booths in these three local councils and other places, APGA duelly participated and at the end of the day, PDP, won in all the booths. “The peaceful demonstration going on in Aba is a legitimate expression. There is a provision for such open show of disenchantment in our constitution. The aim is to dramatize our anger over the Appeal Court ruling so that the entire world will know that injustice has been done to the people of Aba. Our people are conducting themselves within the ambit of the law.

“Let me announce to you that Governor Okezie’s mandate is sacred and safe. By God’s grace, money cannot replace justice. We have the utmost confidence in the ability of the Justices of the Supreme Court to correct the anomaly at the Court of Appeal and uphold the victory of our Governor as had been earlier done by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.” He lamented the new “regime of sponsored intimidation” in the state, pointing at “invasion” on the the house of Eziuche Ubani, commissioner for works and two-time member of the house of representatives” by DSS officials who claimed Ubani was stock piling arms and training people to assassinate APGA leaders. “If state institutions will be used to harass innocent Nigerians then he wonders where the country is heading to,” he said. “Mr. Alex Otti and his surrogates have now turned to false and desperate propaganda to grab power at all costs, and mortgage Abia State.”

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