Imo: Igbo youths condemn Ngor Okpala bye election

From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Igbo youths under the aegis of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, (COSEYL) has condemned the State constituency election held at Ngor Okpala, Imo State last weekend, describing the election as a “daylight robbery”.

In a statement by the President General of COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem ,it noted that the election was a ” travesty of the new electoral law”.

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The youth group has also berrated the State Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC),Francis Ezeonu for announcing the results of the election despite his earlier claim in a press conference that the election was marred with violence and irregularities, especially the abduction of their staff during the election.

It therefore called on the REC to resign his appointment to avoid mistakes in conducting credible elections in the State. “It is very disheartening that the electoral empire – INEC that is supposed to be upright and impartial in its dealings, duties and obligation took sides with the highest bidder in the said bye-election. The loser became the winner, while the winner became the loser. What a shame.” Ibem said.

He continued “Security agents who were deployed to protect electorates in the elections turnout by be willing tools for thumb-printing of electoral ballots papers, adoption of INEC staffs, harassment, chasing away of genuine voters and rigging of the elections in favour of the ruling party, the APC in the state. We are really disappointed that such acts of indiscipline and malpractice will rare up its ugly head at a time a new electoral act have been signed into law were the Biometric Voter Accreditation System, BVAS is used to stop any form of rigging and malpractice whatsoever.

“The National chairman of INEC Professor Mahmood Yakubu said that the BVAS will guard against voting by identity theft where one person uses another person’s permanent voter’s card, PVC, to vote using the incident form. He assured Nigerians that the BVAS has abolished incident forms during elections. With then ask the National Chairman of INEC, how did those INEC staffs at the bye-election rigged the elections by thumb-printing more than once and it was accepted and declared by the returning officer Dennis Akoh.

“We bow our faces in shame that despite the assurances by the National Chairman of the electoral empire Professor Mahmood Yakubu that the new electoral law and the BVAS introduced into our electoral system will end all forms of electoral malpractices, the highest bidder was able to rig the elections to his favour. The bye-election was a mock test for the INEC boss and he failed woefully.

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“The Electoral body of any nation is a very sensitive body that must match its words with action. It must be an embodiment of people with impeccable character, good antecedent and behavior. But what we saw last Saturday at Ngor Okpala is directly opposite of what we expected from the electoral body.

“The State Resident we Electoral Commissioner, REC, Chukwuemeka Ezeonu raised alarmed that the staffs of his agency -INEC having sensitive electoral materials with them have been abducted by some political thugs and the agency will not accept any election results from those areas affected. But to the surprise of everyone, the same REC and the Returning Officer for the election accepted the results of the same areas marred with irregularities and announced the APC candidate as the winner of that election without recourse to his earlier statement.

“COSEYL is a group that is non-partisan and only stands for the truth. We do not have any affinity with any of the candidates or parties but we believe in justice, equity and fair play. Watching such broad daylight robbery happen under our very nose without condemning it in its entirety, is definitely not who we are.

“We condemn the irregularities that marred the bye-election and we demand the immediate Sack of the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner Chukwuemeka Ezeonu and the arrest and prosecution of Dennis Akoh the INEC Returning Officer for the election, who took part in such a broad daylight robbery and announced such fraudulent result. The conducts of the INEC senior staffs and the Returning Officer for the elections clearly shows that they have no integrity left in them.

“Electoral offences no matter how small should be dealt with to serve as deterrent to others who might want to indulge in such acts. We cannot develop as a nation if people who commit such heinous crime against the state are allowed to walk free.

“We therefore call on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to put their house in order before 2023 generat elections to avoid any form of electoral malpractice, under-age voting from some parts of the country, over voting and all forms of electoral malfeasance. We will not entertain any excuse. Enough said.” Ibem stated.

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