By Abdulateef Bamgbose
A socio-political group, the League of Ogbaru Professionals(LOP), has called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, to ensure the immediate release of result of the House of Representatives election in Ogbaru Federal Constituency, conducted on February 25.
The group said in a statement signed by it’s chairman, Dr. Innocent Ezekude noted that it was “shocking that while results for the presidential election held all over the nation has been collated and a winner declared, that of Ogbaru Federal Constituency held on the same day, and time, still hangs in the balance.”
It could be recalled that the collation of results of the Ogbaru House of Representatives election was progressing smoothly, until the wee hours of Tuesday, February 28, 2023 when, allegedly, at Governor Soludo’s behest, the team was directed to move every document concerning the election to Awka, the state’s capital.
According to Dr.Ezekude, “We gathered that before the directive came, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Arinzechukwu Awogu, was trailing the Labour Party flag bearer, Hon. Afam Ogene, with 9,125 votes to 10, 339 votes garnered by the latter.
“Our findings further showed that by 9 am on the same Tuesday, February 28, 2023 the quartet of Political Adviser to Governor Soludo, Mr. Alex Obiogbolu, Commissioner for Information, Paul Nwosu, Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hon. Collins Nwabunwanne and Sly Ezeokenwa, Commissioner in charge of Special Duties, swooped on the INEC headquarters in Awka and remained there till well past 6 pm.
“Besides being close associates of Governor Soludo, Obiogbolu was overheard boasting gleefully that ‘Ogbaru would soon fall to APGA.
“Although many contend that Governor Soludo may not be directly involved in the scheme, political watchers say his officials may have embarked on the expedition purely for percuniary gains.
“As indigenes of Ogbaru, we cannot stand aloof and watch persons who lost the same elections in their various federal constituencies come to toy with the destiny of Ogbaru people.
“Even the unofficial line by INEC, to the effect that make-up election needs to be held in areas where it’s personnel could not deploy materials makes little or no sense, especially as such make-up elections have been held in several places, including Abia North Senatorial Zone, and results declared.
“In fact, from the grapevine, the story from the electoral umpire keeps oscillating, from an initial 19 units to 33, then 45, and lately 51 polling units where fresh elections are to be held in Ogbaru.
“Regrettably, in the haste to do the master’s bidding, even places where elections have been held, and polling unit, ward and local government collation done and copies collected by agents of different political parties, are inexplicably added to the growing list of places earmarked for new polls.
“It is, indeed, heart wrenching that six days after the conduct of elections in Ogbaru Federal Constituency, no one in INEC has deemed it right to speak to the people, leaving huge tension to hover all over the landscape.
“Conscious of the prevailing security challenges in the area, we call on Governor Soludo to rein in his men, who actually may have been dropping his name, and the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Yakubu, to ensure that the right thing is done.”