During the Imo State stakeholder meeting led by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the governorship candidates from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Samuel Anyanwu, and the Labor Party (LP), Athan Achonu, decided to leave the premises.
The situation became heated when South-East INEC National Commissioner, Kenneth Ukeagu requested after his opening remarks that members of the media shut off their cameras and vacate the premises.
The LP deputy governorship candidate, Tony Nwulu, along with the PDP candidate, Jones Onyereri, who were representing their party’s nominees, along with representatives of the opposition parties staunchly disputed the order.
Nwulu questioned the rationale behind excluding the press from the meeting, asking if it was a confidential gathering.
The PDP leader claimed that INEC was conspiring to manipulate the elections to benefit the state’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Supporting Nwulu’s stance, Onyereri provided copies of what he alleged to be fabricated result sheets from the INEC portal during the state’s House of Representatives elections.
The session descended into chaos as insults were exchanged among supporters of the ruling and opposition parties, nearly inciting physical clashes. About twenty minutes afterwards, calm was restored with several parties advocating for tranquility.
Tensions escalated once more when an APC leader, Macron Nlemigbo, openly insulted the state’s LP chairman who reiterated his party’s belief that Agu’s presence as REC would impede the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
Nlemigbo’s remarks, which Ukeagu did not address, were a contributing factor to Nwulu, Onyereri and their supporters vacating the venue.
Onyereri explained to the media that he felt compelled to leave due to the REC Professor Sylva Agu’s perceived alliance with the Imo APC, inferred from his actions and demeanour.
Onyeriri therefore urged the PDP to push for Agu’s immediate transfer.
“With the INEC disregarding our PDP demands for Professor Sylvia Agu to reclaim her position as the REC, it’s clear there’s no room for meaningful conversation at this gathering,” he emphasized.
Nwulu also pointed out the LP’s decision to leave due to uncertainty in trusting Agu or Ukeagu to guarantee free and fair elections.
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“INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu demonstrates no regard to our request concerning Professor Agu. We doubt Agu’s ability to ensure free and fair elections, based on this dismissal from Yakubu. Even APC officials present in the audience belittled our concerns by bragging about Agu’s immovability,” he added.
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