The Returning Officer for the Imo West senatorial election in Saturday’s national assembly election, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi, has alleged that he was forced to declare Governor Rochas Okorocha as winner of the poll by the supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate.
According to the result, Okorocha polled 97,762 votes to win the election ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s Mr Jones Onyereri (68,117) and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA’s Osita Izunaso (30,084).
While addressing reporters after announcing the result on Monday in Owerri, Ibeawuchi claimed that he was held hostage from 7pm on Sunday till 11am on Monday.
He explained that because he feared for his life, he had to announce the result which he claimed was inconclusive, because of the electoral fraud in eight local government areas.
Ibeawuchi said he was rescued after he had announced the result by policemen and soldiers.
According to him, “I was compelled to announce the result which was inconclusive. I am a man of integrity and it is not true that the governor slapped me but I was held hostage by agents working for him. I was manhandled and I thank God I came back alive.”
In a swift reaction, Okorocha dismissed the allegations, insisting he deserved to win the election.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor described the returning officer as “a bloody liar who may be acting a script”.
He said, “Having won in nine out of the 12 local government areas announced, we heard that they were trying to move the result sheets to Owerri but when we demanded an explanation, the man (Ibeawuchi) said he was tired and didn’t feel safe, when nobody was threatening him. At the end, we discovered that he didn’t have the declaration sheet. I wonder where this is taking us. I hope INEC would change this system because we will resist them if they try it in the next election.”
“They should examine the returning officer to know his mental state. If he doesn’t have a mental illness, then he must be a criminal to ever think of that. How could someone ask you to change the result of an election he has already won? My score is above 90,000 and the nearest to me is slightly above half of it, when you combine both Jones and Izunaso’s votes. They can’t match or contest against me in Imo State not to talk of Orlu zone.
“I asked the Resident Electoral Commissioner here to quickly correct these anomalies. The returning officer is a bloody liar who may be acting a script,” the governor added.