By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the conclusive rerun legislative elections for Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency and Etche State Constituency II.
The win by PDP effectively landed a knock out blow on the former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi, who lost in his home constituency.
The commission’s Returning Officer for the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency election, Professor Shola Omotola declared the results at INEC’s office in Port Harcourt. He said APC polled 6,220 votes while PDP polled 15,221 votes.
For the Etche State Constituency II, the Returning Officer, Oluwatosin Odusonya, announced that APC scored 1,618 votes while PDP polled 4,162 votes.
The announcement brought to an end the drama that characterised the announcement of the results at the weekend.
THISDAY gathered that when the returning officers wanted to announce the results at Okehi, after collation on Saturday night, they were stopped by military personnel at the Okehi Collation Centre.
The military personnel were said to have escorted the INEC officers and the materials alongside officials of the PDP and APC to Port Harcourt.
The results were subsequently announced early Sundaymorning at the INEC state headquarters, Port Harcourt.
The state chapter of the APC had earlier called on INEC not to announce the result on the grounds that the commission had said that the elections were inconclusive.
The state publicity secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt said: “Yesterday’s (Saturday) supplementary rerun elections for Etche State Constituency and Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency were formally declared inconclusive by the Returning Officers, Prof. Olatunbosun Odusanya and Prof. Omotola respectively at Okehi, Saturday.
“They subsequently announced that the conclusion of the process will take place today (Sunday) or on Monday.
“However, we are taken aback by signals indicating that the National Electoral Commissioner in charge, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, has ordered that the incomplete results be declared despite the earlier declaration by the two returning officers on Saturday at Okehi that the elections were inconclusive.”
He said the announcement of the results by any INEC officer other than the returning officers would be in violation of the Electoral Act.
However it was the returning officers that announced the results at the INEC office in Port Harcourt yesterday.
Reacting to the results, the state Chairman of PDP, Felix Obuah, “hailed the uncommon courage of members of the party and the good people of Etche and Omuma who ensured victory for the PDP during Saturday’s re-run legislative elections in the area, even in the face of harassment, intimidation, attacks, maiming and arrests of innocent PDP members by men of the army and police”.
The PDP chairman described what he termed the interference and involvement of the military and men of the Nigeria Police in electoral processes as worrisome and condemnable, warning that it could portend a great danger for Nigeria’s democracy.
He congratulated the candidates of the PDP, Chief Jerome Eke, (Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency) and Hon. Tony Ejiogu, (Etche State Constituency II) for emerging victorious, and the people of Etche/Omuma for voting for the PDP.
Obuah also described the arrest of the party’s state publicity secretary, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike, Hon. Rowland Sekibo and other chieftains of the PDP “who were on legal election duty as provocative, illegal, condemnable and acting out the script of a particular leader of the All Progressives Congress”.
He warned that there were plans by the security agencies to fabricate trumped up charges against Nwonosike, Sekibo and others in order to falsely implicate them.
“We therefore demand for their unconditional release without further delay, and insist that they have committed no crime. Their arrests were political and vindictive,” he said.
The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, also advised the APC national leadership to forget about rigging in Rivers State, adding that the people would always resist “their evil machinations”.
The governor stated that Rivers State remains a PDP state because its people are satisfied with his stewardship.