Chinedu Ogah, a House of Representatives Candidate in Enugu State, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ebonyi State are trading words over the conduct of the National Assembly elections in the state.
Mr Ogah is a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the House of Representatives candidate for Ikwo/Ezza South Federal Constituency.
The APC candidate, who lost to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Laz Ogbee, has accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Godswill Obioma, of receiving N300 million bribe from the PDP.
Mr Obioma, on his part, alleged that results from two polling units from Mr Ogah’s Ikwo local government area and one polling unit from Ezza South, were mutilated.
Though the REC did not accuse Mr Ogah of orchestrating the said mutilation, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the PDP recently, at the tribunal, accused the APC candidate of being responsible for the mutilation
Mr Ogah, at a press briefing in Abakaliki on Saturday, called for the full investigation of the REC and the commission’s activities.
He further alleged that Mr Obioma, in connivance with his staff and PDP, reduced the votes of President Muhammadu Buhari and that of Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency, during the 2019 polls.
He said, “I have decided to speak to the press on how Professor Godswill Obioma collected N300 million bribe and reduced the results of President Muhammadu Buhari and APC national Assembly candidate for Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency.
“When that happened, we wrote to the REC, complaining, and what the REC did was to instruct his agents, those he distributed camouflage to, to pose as security men with arms.
“They went to Ezza South, hijacked the Ikwo materials and brought the materials to the headquarters without any security threat. He left with the materials and the materials were handed to his staff.
“After two days, they still brought the Ikwo material to INEC’s headquarters, which is not supposed to be, according to the electoral act.
“Ebonyi’s REC collected N300 million. What we are asking the REC is that if he claims that he is innocent of this, why should they now fill form ECG 40 G on April 4, claiming that up to 31,000 votes were cancelled in Ikwo, but he used 3000 plus to declare someone winner?
“If such a thing happened is it not inconclusive? But, such a thing did not happen, because you want to make sure that you deliver on the money you have collected.
“We have written to the INEC Chairman, we have written to the President, we have written to the REC, (several times). Even my party wrote, but we thank God for the intervention of the President.
“We are urging the INEC chairman to look into this N300million bribe. We are not fighting anybody neither are we fighting any constituted authority, but, we are fighting for the truth.”
Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Obioma, while reacting to the allegations, denied collecting any bribe of N300 million from any candidate or political party during the election.
He also noted that he was invited by the Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) but was never arrested as was rumoured.
“My attention has been drawn to a statement made by Chinedu Ogah that I took a bribe of N300 million. I deny it in its entirety. I didn’t receive any bribe and I couldn’t have received it. As an INEC REC, I carried out my duty free and fair. I am not partisan, so I did not at all receive any bribe.
“If I was arrested, would you have spoken to me? SPIP actually invited me over the allegation of N300 million bribe and asked me to make a statement. They are re-inviting me and they are still making investigations and as much as they invite me, I will go and make statement.”
The REC, however, said he will declare the petitioner winner if the tribunal nullifies the results of the election in Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency and rules in his favour.
“There have been many instances where somebody have been declared winner by INEC and the court nullified it. So, in the event that the tribunal nullified the result of the election for Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency and declared the petitioner winner, we will abide by it.
“Regarding the petition in the tribunal, I cannot make comment on that as it is before a court of competent jurisdiction. The court will decide the final winner of the election.”
Mr Obioma also alleged that the electoral results from 22 polling units of the constituency were mutilated.
“Regarding the mutilation of results, we discovered, through a petition, that some results were mutilated. Results of 20 polling units from Ezza south local government and 2 from Ikwo local government were submitted by the Electoral Officers (EOs) (to) our office, weeks after the results were announced.
“After the election, we received a petition alleging that results from two polling units in Ikwo and results from 20 polling units in Ezza South were altered and we have notified the police for investigation.
“The police has invited several people, including the EOs of the affected local governments, polling officials. Some of my staff have been invited by the police in the last four months and they have made useful statements. We are awaiting (the) police results on it.
“The petitioner has gone to the tribunal and other respondents have also made their defence in the tribunal. As far as I am concerned, INEC is a law-abiding entity and whatever the court decides, INEC will abide by it,” he stated.