By Mokwugwo Solomon
The National Rescue Movement (NRM), one of the political parties that participated in the March 9, 2019, House of Assembly elections in Anambra State, says it has mobilised about 15 lawyers to challenge the declaration of the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, as winner of the Idemili North State Constituency election.
Rising from a joint meeting of the state and local government executive committee of the party held in Ogidi, headquarters of Idemili North on Thursday, the candidate of the party for the state constituency election in Idemili North, Barr Onyeka Martin Chukwuemeka, described the election as a fraud.
“I cannot call what took place in Idemili North on March 9 as an election, because, there were many irregularities that went contrary to the electoral law. From what we gathered from polling booths and from agents that worked for our party, we realized that people were bullied to vote against their wish.
“In Nkpor, for instance, we gathered that some thugs believed to have been employed by APGA, went from polling unit to polling unit beating people up; and forcing them to vote against their conscience. Also, after the election, some of our agents, who refused to pen their signatures to the result sheets were beaten up and forced to do so.
“In Umuoji, about 15 boys or more believed to have been employed by APGA brought in already thumb printed ballot papers, and changed the one that was already cast by voters; in order to give a particular candidate undue advantage.
“In many areas in Idemili North, INEC officials in collusion with APGA agents resorted to manual voting as against the use of card readers. The essence of introducing the card reader is to check malpractices. If, therefore, the card reader is not working, then, the electoral system is faulty. This is not right in a democratic setting. This is why we are calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the Federal Government, FG, to look into the case and declare us winner of the election.
“People of Idemili North deserve the best, they know the kind of representative they want; and that is the reason they voted us in large numbers. We won the election but our party was short-changed with the collusion of INEC officials and APGA mercenaries; and placed us at the second position. So, after our joint meeting today, we felt that we cannot afford to disappoint our teeming supporters, who came out in great numbers to vote for us.
“We have concluded that we’re approaching the court because, we want INEC to declare us winner of the election. We’re already gathering our team of lawyers to prosecute the matter in court; about 15 of them, including 2 senior advocates. We’re very confident because we have very good case. Apart from reclaiming our mandate through the court, we will ensure also that all those involved in subverting justice and stealing the mandate of the good people of Idemili North, are prosecuted and punished as provided by the prevailing laws.
On his own part, the Anambra State chairman of the party, Hon. Dr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, expressed disappointment over the outcome of the election. He said that many people were caught with thumb printed ballot papers before the election, and wondered how sensitive materials in INEC custody got to enter wrong hands.
The state chairman also alleged that one Sunday, one of the agents that worked for the party, NRM, in Nkpor Ward I, was beaten and stripped by political thugs believed to be working for APGA; adding that non-indigenes in Nkpor Ward I were given the option of voting against their conscience or leaving the community for good.
Accusing INEC and Corp members, who worked as adhoc staff of masterminding the falsification of results in the constituency, he also urged INEC to declare the candidate of the party in the constituency, Barr Martin Chukwuemeka, winner of the election or have their “shameful acts” exposed in court.
Speaking also, the chairman of the party in Idemili North Local Government Area, Hon. Mark Obi-Osakwe, who claimed that he monitored the election in the entire council area, disclosed that during collation at the Idemili North council secretariat, only INEC officials and APGA agents were allowed to witness the collation, while agents of other political parties, including agents of NRM, were barred from gaining access; a development he said, helped those that perfected the rigging to do so.