All Progressives Congress, APC and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, have alleged complicity by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Sunday’s rescheduled elections at Ndume Ward in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia.
The supporters of the parties stormed the INEC collation centre in Umuahia North in their numbers on Sunday morning protesting the alleged complicity.
The parties alleged that the electoral umpire was compromised by the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state by failing to conduct Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Ndume.
The elections could not hold in all the 22 polling units in Ndume because of a missing document for the senatorial poll.
Following the development, the two protesting parties insisted that the elections would not hold until the document was provided.
News Agency of Nigeria learnt that the document was misplaced by the electoral officer on the election day.
The document later resurfaced by 3.30p.m. but the opposition insisted INEC must reschedule the election in spite of the plea of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Joseph Iloh, that he was ready to extend the voting hour.
The incident generated a lot of controversies between PDP supporters and the opposition at the collation centre on Sunday.
The electoral body and PDP said the rescheduled elections should hold on Sunday morning but the opposition argued that it must be held on Monday or Tuesday so as not to disenfranchise those who had gone to church.
It, however, took the intervention of the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) in Abia, Gabriel Elaigwu, to calm the situation.
The police officer sued for peace and urged both parties to adhere to the electoral guidelines and hold the rescheduled elections as stipulated by INEC.
Following the appeal, the electoral officers and election materials were moved to the ward for the election proper.
Paul Mmelugini, Abia APC Administrative Secretary, told NAN that he informed the REC about the missing result sheet as early as 8.30 a.m. on Saturday, but he ignored it.
“Today is Sunday. There is no sensitisation. We asked for extension of date but the REC refused because he and his electoral officer have compromised,” he said.
Also, Rex Chikezie, APGA Collation Agent, said he discovered that the result sheet was missing and quickly raised the alarm.
“I think the election shouldn’t have hold today, rather Monday, so as to sensitise the electorate,” he said.
Emmanuel Nwabuko, a chieftain of PDP in Mr Ndume, denied any complicity.
“Ndume is a community. So it was very easy for us to pass the information around about the rescheduled election for Sunday.
Our people are very much eager to vote for the candidate of their choice,” Nwabuko said.
Ezinne Ebonam, the Electoral Officer in Umuahia North, however, dismissed the allegation.
She said that it was a mix-up and that the issue was rectified the same day.
Mrs Ebonam said that the Commission had already dispatched materials to the ward for the conduct of the elections.
Mr Ndume is in Abia Central, the Senatorial district of Sen. Theodore Orji, PDP; Nkechi Nworgu, APC; and Chidi Ajaegbu, APGA.