Less than a week before the Imo State governorship election, the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), Senators Samuel Anyanwu and Athan Achonu, have staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The candidates had registered their grievance to the electoral body to press home their demand for the redeployment of the state Resident Electoral (REC), Professor Sylva Agu.
Tuesday’s meeting was part of INEC’s interactions with the governorship candidates, security agencies, the media, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders ahead of the November 11 poll. The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu was represented by the National Commissioner representing South-east, Kenneth Ukeagu.
After Ukeagu ordered journalists to turn off their cameras/gadgets and leave the hall, LP’s deputy governorship candidate, Mr Tony Nwulu, and that of PDP, Jones Onyereri, who represented their flagbearers, and other officials of the opposition political parties vehemently opposed the directive.
The situation then threw the meeting into a commotion in Owerri, the Imo State capital. The duo insisted that the press, as critical stakeholders, could not be excluded from the meeting.
An angry Nwulu alleged that there were plans by INEC to rig the election in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, wondering if the meeting was “a secret cult affair.”
Speaking in support of Nwulu, Onyereri displayed copies of documents he described as fake result sheets posted on the INEC portal during the House of Assembly election in the state.
As a result, the session turned rowdy with supporters of both the ruling and opposition parties raining abuses on each other, with the situation nearly degenerating into fisticuffs.