Election: Uzodimma triumphs in Imo, Ododo triumphs in Kogi

All Progressives Congress (APC) has retained control of two states in the weekend’s off-cycle governorship elections.

The result of the third state is expected to be declared today.


Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma was declared the winner. He won in all the 27 local government areas (LGAs) to record a landslide victory.


In Kogi State, Usman Ododo fought a hard battle to defeat his closest rival Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Ododo won in 12 LGAs out of 21.


Ajaka won eight and African Democratic Party (ADC) candidate Leke Abejide won one.


Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Dino Melaye did not win in any LGA.


In Bayelsa, Governor Duoye Diri is comfortably ahead with results from six of the eight LGAs declared yesterday. He won in five.


The remaining two will be declared today and the winner announced.


Some of those who lost in Imo and Kogi immediately rejected the results.


Apart from Ajaka, Melaye, who declined to vote in the election, called for the cancellation of the results over alleged irregularities.


Athan Achonu, the Labour Party (LP) candidate who came third in Imo, said he would challenge the outcome at the tribunal.


Uzodimma was declared the winner after polling 540,308 votes.


Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP got 71,503 votes, and Achonu polled 64,081 votes.


A new chapter opened in the history of Kogi as Ododo clinched the coveted seat with 446,237 to defeat Ajaka, who scored 259,052.


Abejide scored 21,819 votes and Melaye polled 46,362 votes.


Chief Returning Officer for Kogi Poll, Prof. Johnson Urama, said the total valid votes were 782,289, rejected votes were 9,601 and total votes cast were 791,890.


He explained that there would be no need for a fresh election in the nine wards in Ogori/Magongo Local Government in Kogi Central Senatorial District because the margin of lead is far above the number of PVCs collected in the area which he put at 16,247.


A call by the agent of the SDP, Mr Ehimony David, that the collation be suspended to allow INEC to review irregularities allegedly observed in some parts of Kogi Central was rejected.


“They do not affect the results significantly,” Prof. Urama said.


A cursory look at the result showed that APC’s Ododo won 12 out of the 21 LGAs.


The LGAs are Ijumu, Okene, Yagba West, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori/Magongo, Mopa/Moro, Okehi, Bassa, Kabba/Bunnu, Kogi Koto-Karfe and Lokoja.


Jubilation in Owerri

There was jubilation in Owerri, the capital of Imo and other towns and villages yesterday, following Uzodimma’s victory.


Owerri Metropolis erupted in excitement as INEC Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Abayomi Fasina, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, declared him the winner at about 10.20 am.


Many party supporters and indigenes stormed the Government House to rejoice with the governor.


At the INEC office along Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, APC supporters danced through the streets, clutching the party flags and brooms, chanting victory songs.


They were joined by other excited supporters who stormed the area in convoys and marched from Port Harcourt Road through Bank Road, to Wetheral Road, Douglas and Okigwe roads


A shop owner at the IMSU Junction, Darlington Opara, said he had expected the governor’s victory because of his boldness in tackling the challenges facing the state, particularly insecurity and infrastructure.


He said: “I had always known that he would win. First, I voted for him because of his boldness in tackling insecurity. Imo would have been overrun by hoodlums.


“So, I congratulate him and wish that he would focus on bringing Imo back to the good old days.”


Uzodimma, who spoke at the Government House Chapel after Mass, said his reelection had vindicated him as the real winner of the 2019 poll.


The governor thanked God and those who contributed to his victory, adding that the feat would spur him to more action in the service of Imo.


Uzodimma said: “First, I thank the God Almighty for the victory and His goodness to all Imo citizens and for answering our prayers. Once you are with God, you fear not.”


The governor thanked APC leaders and supporters for their extraordinary commitment before, during and after the election.


Uzodimma thanked the state leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) for their resilience and for standing firm in the face of intimidation and resolve to undermine his government.


He also thanked the National Campaign Council, led by the Cross River State Governor Bassey Otu, the APC Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Emma Eneukwu, the Imo State APC Chairman, Macdonald Ebere, and other stalwarts who worked for the victory.


He also thanked the civil servants for their support and show of love, assuring them that he would reciprocate their gesture.


Uzodimma expressed gratitude to the traditional rulers and the State Council of Elders for their commitment to a united Imo State.


He thanked the sole administrators of the 27 local government areas, saying that they made it possible for him to win.


Uzodimma noted that it was the first time such a thing would happen in the history of the state.


The governor commended the resilience of INEC, saying that its officials refused to be blackmailed.


He said the electoral officers stood firm and did their job according to the law.


Uzodimma also thanked the security agencies, who exhibited a high level of professionalism by ensuring proper coordination and synergy among themselves.


He thanked his wife, Chioma, for her invaluable support, assuring everyone that he would do his best to be like the legendary former Imo governor, the late Sam Mbakwe.


He said: “My heart is full of joy and I am grateful to all. My good people of Imo State, I am humbled and honoured by your overwhelming support in yesterday’s (Saturday’s) election.


“Your trust in me to continue leading our dear state is both inspiring and deeply appreciated.


“Together, we have achieved a resounding victory and I am committed to delivering on the promises made during our campaign.


“As we embark on the next level of ‘Shared Prosperity,’ rest assured that your interests will remain at the forefront of my administration.


“I extend a hand to my fellow contenders from other parties, urging them to join me in a united effort to build and uplift our one and only dear state.


“In the spirit of inclusivity, we will operate a government that transcends political differences for the benefit of all.


“I express profound gratitude to every member of my team, our great party and every citizen of Imo for your unwavering support. Our State is progressing because of your collective efforts.


“I commend INEC and its officials for ensuring a fair and neutral electoral process.


“I also appreciate the dedication of the security agencies in maintaining peace during the exercise.


“A special thanks to the leader of our great party, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his fatherly guidance throughout the electioneering period.


“Together, let us continue the journey towards a more prosperous and inclusive Imo.


“Thank you, Ndi Imo, for your trust and confidence. Our shared future is bright and I am committed to leading us to greater heights.”

The Imo LP vowed to challenge Uzodimma’s victory in court, saying that the poll was marred by fraud.

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At a press conference in Owerri, its chairman, Callistus Ihejiagwa, said the electoral process was faulty and full of irregularities.


He alleged that security operatives aided the electoral commission and APC to manipulate the poll in favour of the governor.


The LP chairman said judging by the actual votes cast, its candidate, Achonu, won the election.


He described the poll as a daylight robbery and a rape of the democracy adding that INEC produced results in places where there were no accreditation of voters.


He said the election did not take place in most places in Orsu, Orlu, Ideato North, Okigwe, Oguta, and Owerri municipal, alleging that INEC, in collaboration with APC and security agents, wrote results.


He also faulted the Returning Officer, Prof Fasina, for failing to address his petition before collating the results and returning Uzodimma as the winner.


Ihejiagwa said: “ What happened in Imo State on Saturday was a sham. It was shameful how the security agents provided INEC staff and APC members the protection to rig the election.


“From our records, our candidate, Senator Athan Achonu, won the election. We will challenge the announcement of Hope Uzodimma as the winner of the election in court.

“If anybody keeps quiet, of course, the Labour and our candidate won’t. We clearly won the election. We will retrieve our mandate in court.”


Achonu called for a cancellation of the results of the polling units where there were “disturbing reports of hijacking of ballot boxes, other electoral materials and vote buying”.


He said he received the reports of the malpractices in some polling units from his agents.


The LP candidate made the demand while speaking to reporters in his hometown, Umunumo, in Ehime Mbano local government area.


Achonu said his party had already written to INEC for requisite action and the cancellation of results emanating from the affected locations to ensure that fake results are not uploaded.


He alleged: “In parts of Ideato, the process was characterised by ballot box snatching and all manners of irregularities, including intimidation of voters.


“This is unacceptable. We have already written to INEC to take appropriate steps to ensure that fake results are not uploaded.”


He decried the “absence of security personnel in certain places around Orlu and Orsu,” while commending the military for turning up to save the situation in some other areas.


Neither the state PDP leadership nor its candidate, Senator Anyanwu, had reacted to the outcome of the election.


APC kicks as Diri coasts home to victory in Bayelsa


Diri has so far won Kolokuma-Opokuma, Yenagoa, Ogbia, Sagbama and Ekeremor while his closest rival, Chief Timipre Sylva of the APC won Nembe.


The collation was adjourned till noon today to announce results from Brass and Southern Ijaw – the two remaining LGAs. Sylva hails from Brass.


INEC announced that there were issues with Brass and Southern Ijaw councils, adding that collation for some areas in Brass had been brought to Yenagoa.


The commission added that in Southern Ijaw, the election continued in some wards yesterday morning.


Diri has so far garnered 137,909 votes in the six LGAs announced to defeat Sylva, who polled 68,154 votes while Udengs Eradiri of the LP is trailing with 703 votes.


The collation centre was charged following the protest by the APC agent, Dennis Otiotio, who complained that 27,968 votes scored by APC in Nembe were cancelled by the collation officers.


He said acting on the directive of the REC, the LGA officer cancelled results collated in four wards of Nembe.


Otiotio insisted that the officer acted illegally as he had no right to cancel results already collated at the units and wards of any local council already posted to the I-REV.


He complained that the collation of all LGAs won by APC was moved to the INEC office in Yenagoa while areas won by the PDP were tabulated at the ward levels.


Otiotio alleged that the disposition of the state collation officer suggested that he did not want the APC agent at the collation centre.


But the Returning Officer, Prof. Kuta Farouk, took exception to the comments and clarified that he only wanted all agents to document their complaints, insisting that the centre had no power to resolve the issues.


PDP’s agent, Chief Talford Ongolo, countered Otiotio, saying the REC had the power to cancel collated results in areas marred by violence, BVAS bypass and abduction of officials.


Supporters, loyalists and members of the PDP stormed the INEC head office in their numbers to protest results from some LGAs where they claimed there was no election.


They blocked the Swali Road leading to the INEC office to stop the commission from accepting the results of Nembe Bassambiri, which they claimed were manipulated.


Bayelsa Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Dambo Biriyai, (SAN), alleged that the election did not take place in Nembe Bassambiri.


He called on REC, Mr Obo Effanga, and Southsouth Commissioner for INEC, May Agbamuche-Mbu, to reject the results.


He claimed that PDP members, who visited their country home of Bassambiri, were prevented entry by the combined team of the police and APC thugs.


The development led to the massive deployment of armed security operatives around the INEC office.


Over four Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) belonging to the military and the police were used to block the entrance of the Swali Road.


But the supporters of Diri kept vigil around the INEC office.


Diri’s supporters danced to the song wafting from huge speakers installed in one of the governor’s campaign vehicles.


Matters took a twist when a truck drove into the area with hundreds of plastic chairs for the fatigued protesters to sit down and continue to occupy the area.


Despite the announcement that collation would continue the next day, the protesters, who were mainly youths, continued to occupy the road.


Diri won his Kolokuma-Opokuma LGA, scoring 18,465 votes; Sylva got 5,349 while LP had 22.


In Ogbia, the LGA of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Diri won with a small margin.


The governor got 18,435 votes against Sylva, who polled 16,319 and Udengs Eradiri of the LP, who scored 57 votes.


In Yenagoa, Diri won with a wide margin scoring 37,777 votes against Sylva, who got 14,534 and Eradiri, who polled 244 votes.


In Sagbama, the council area of former Governor Seriake Dickson and Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewrujakpor, Diri won massively with 35,504 while Sylva got 6,600 and Eradiri 217 votes.


But Sylva won his maternal Nembe Local Government Area with a wide margin of 22,248 while Diri got 4,556 and LP 113.


But in Ekeremor, the LGA of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri, the PDP Diri won with 23,172 to beat Sylva, who got 8,445 votes and LP that polled 50.


Melaye rejects election results


Rejecting the result, Melaye said: “The purported APC victory was a pure daylight robbery that cannot withstand democratic test in all measure.


“Yesterday, in the five local governments of central Senatorial districts in Kogi State, there was no election.


“Surprisingly accreditation was done manually, the BVAS was not used, prepared sheets manifested even before accreditation and evidence is all over media.


“INEC as a matter of urgency must cancel the election. In many areas where I won, my agents were told there were no available result sheets to enter the result and we have evidence to back up these claims.


“As I speak to you it is shameful that this is what our democracy has descended to.


“INEC has manifested ever than before, that they cannot be trusted, they are biased, they are compromised and they cannot be neutral umpire.”


He also alleged that INEC officials and youth Corps members were caught with prepared result sheets before the commencement of the process.


According to him, a youth corps member was arrested with prepared results and N1 million. Melaye’s claim could not be verified.


He said: “There was a deliberate suppression of my votes in Lokoja and Kogi LGAs. This was deliberately done by Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC to make sure that even with their orchestrated arrangement, I don’t come second.


“Because they do believe that there will be a second ballot and they believe if there is a second ballot I have influence and tremendous support in the central and I can make an in road in the East. So, they preferred any other person to become second.”


The Social Democratic Party candidate, Murtala Ajaka, won in eight LGAs of the state.


The local governments are Dekina, Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala, Ofu, Idah, Igalamela-Odolu and Ibaji.


ADC’ candidate, Leke Abejide won Yagba East LGA while Melaye did not win any local government.


Ododo of APC emerged victorious in his local government of origin, Ijumu.


There was a heavy security cordon in and around the INEC headquarters in Lokoja where the collation was done.

Our correspondents, who monitored the collation and declaration of the results of the election, observed heavy deployment of security operatives.

All the entry and exit points in and around the collation centre were barricaded with Armoured Personnel Carriers.

Riot policemen and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) men, with sniffer dogs, took position around the INEC office.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi State, Dr. Gabriel Longpet, had said collation of the results would commence at 10 a.m. yesterday.

However, the collation centre was formally opened at 11 am.

Longpet arrived at the centre alongside the REC for Rivers, Zamfara, Delta, Jigawa and Taraba states as well as the National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Sam Olumekun.

At the centre were Kogi State Commissioner of Police, NSCDC State Commandant, Director of DSS, election observers, journalists and party agents, among others.

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