Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State have accused their governor, Rochas Okorocha, of colluding with the chairman of the convention committee of the party, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, to manipulate the election into the position of National Organising Secretary of the party.
Emmanuel Ibediro polled 1,749 votes to unseat the incumbent, Osita Izunaso, who polled 1,459 votes in one of the most keenly contested elections at the convention held on Saturday at Eagle Square in Abuja.
In a statement they issued at a press conference on Tuesday at Barcelona Hotel, Abuja, the APC members claimed Mr Badaru compromised in favour of his “brother governor to remove the incumbent Osita Izunaso.”
The statement, which was signed by T.O. E Ekechi and Kingsley Ononuju, alleged that 1,246 votes of delegates from six states were exempted in the collation of result for the position. They demanded that the votes be added to Mr Izunaso’s tally.
In the build up to the convention, Mr Okorocha had openly opposed the reelection bid of Mr Izunaso. This was a fallout of their local dispute which culminated in Mr Izunaso and other party leaders conducting separate congresses from those by loyalists of Mr Okorocha.
The aggrieved APC members said they were fully aware of the animosity between Mr Okorocha and Mr Izunaso, but that as “law abiding, disciplined and committed members of the party, who believed in the sanctity of the typical electoral tradition of a truly progressive APC,” they hinged their confidence on a transparent process.
However, they said the outcome of the election into the office of the national organising secretary indicated conspiracy between the two governors.
“It is therefore to the shock of the Imo delegates and the South East in general that Governor Badaru, after so much prevarications, announced that himself, Rochas Okorocha and the endorsed South East aspirant, Senator Osita lzunaso, had reached a consensus that for peace to reign the lmo delegates would not be voting,” the protesters said.
According to them, Mr Izunaso “vehemently” denied having a discussion with Governor Badaru over a consensus.
The group claimed several efforts to make Governor Baduru rescind the announcement was unsuccessful as he “cleverly and artfully evaded all efforts to engage him in any further conversation to expose his lies.”
It alleged the announced figures were collated from only 30 states and Abuja, excluding those from Akwa Ibom with 217 delegates, Anambra,161; Abia,152; Adamawa, 208; Imo, 225 and Jigawa, 282.
According to them, ballot boxes for Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Abia and Adamawa states containing votes for National Organising Secretary were destroyed in the full glare of the press, security men, returning officers and delegates by thugs and securitymen they claimed accompanied the Governor of Imo State to the affected pavilion.
In the case of Imo State where Mr Izunaso is from, they said 225 duly accredited and seated delegates were “willfully and skillfully” excluded from voting by the convention chairman, Mr Badaru.
“For Jigawa State, which is the state of the chairman of the convention, ballot papers for the office of the National Organising Secretary were curiously missing,” the group said.
It believes these states were targeted by Governors Badaru and Okorocha for exclusion from collated votes before announcing the results.
Many APC leaders from the South-East zone had endorsed Mr Izunaso. Anambra, lmo and Abia States are part of the South-East zone.
“This act is a terrifying disservice to the image of a progressive party which, since its birth strives to be a pace setter in transparency and due process,” the protesters said.
“This rape of democracy, masterminded by two sitting governors of the party is scandalous and therefore condemnable.
“For fairness, equity, justice, and peace,” the group said the 1,246 votes of the affected states must count towards the declaration of the election result.
The spokesperson to the Imo State Governor, Sam Onuwuemedo, when reached for comment, refused to speak on the matter.
Also, the spokesperson of the Jigawa governor said he could not comment on the issue as he is not the spokesperson of Mr Badaru in his capacity as chairman of the committee.