Published On: Fri, Nov 15th, 2013
Metro News | By admin | 579 Views |

Tight Race For APC, APGA In Anambra

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As campaigns for tomorrow’s governorship election in Anambra State ended yesterday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) are set for showdown in their quest to win the governorship of the state.

Indications emerged that APGA and the APC candidates – Chief Willy Obiano and Senator Chris Ngige, respectively, have the brightest chances and are in last minute battle of wits and strategies to win the election whose result is expected to be close-knit.

Also tipped to be amongst the front-runners are the candidates of the Labour Party, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Tony Nwoye. The infighting in the PDP has put the party’s fortunes in a tight corner as other parties have cashed in on the crises.

Ubah is expected to edge over Nwoye as some PDP stakeholders are said to be engaged in anti-party activities to the detriment of the party.

Andy Uba, Senator Nicholas Ukachukwu were engaged in dirty power play in the build up to the governorship primaries which eventually saw the Supreme Court ruling declaring Nwoye the candidate of the PDP. Though  Andy Uba is still in court asking to be declared the candidate of the party, the differences in the party in the state which led it to have two state excos that eventually held two separate party primaries, have largely remained unsettled and hence the attitude of a lot of party stakeholders in the state.

As at yesterday, Nigerianinfo’s investigation revealed that While Obiano is banking heavily on the support of Governor Peter Obi, who has virtually abandoned governance to campaign for him, Ngige has relied on the APC machinery across the state as well as the support of all 11 APC governors in the country to give Obiano a run for his money.

Not left in the saddle is Labour Party’s Ifeanyi Ubah who has galvanised support from businessmen across the country and pumped in billions of naira to aid him in his campaign. Tony Nwoye, the PDP’s candidate, has also received the support of the ruling PDP as well as business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze, who has not hidden his funding of the PDP’s candidate’s aspiration in Anambra State.

 

Police arrest 180 thugs with weapons

Meanwhile, reports reaching Nigerianinfo suggest that the Anambra poll may yet be marred by violence: the Imo State police command yesterday arrested about 180 armed hoodlums carrying fake voter cards, official identity cards of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and independent observer identity cards.

The suspected bandits, who were said to be heading for Anambra State ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election, confessed that they were coming from Osun State before they were arrested around 7:30pm by the crack team of the Imo State police command in a hotel in Owerri, while waiting to link their contact persons in Anambra State.

According to the police, items recovered from them include two pump-action rifles, live ammunition rounds, 15 buses and other incriminating materials.

The suspects could not mention the political party they were hired to work for, even as Nigerianinfo gathered that they were paid over N50 million to rig the elections in favour of one of the candidates.

Parading the suspects, the commissioner of police, Muhammad Katsina, warned that the state would no longer be used as breeding ground for criminal activities, stressing that those arrested would face the law.

Katsina said that the heavily armed hoodlums were in the state to cause breach of the peace, and that the operation against miscreants would continue without hindrance.

One of the suspects who identified himself as Salawo Ayodele said that they were members of Justice and Equity Organisation and were hired to monitor the election in Anambra State.

Ayodele revealed that they were paid N10,000 each.

 

Court cases spring up in Awka, Abuja

Also, with Just a day to the much-anticipated governorship election in Anambra State, there seems to be no end in sight to the barrage of court cases that have characterised events leading to the election.

Yesterday, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja was asked to order the disqualification of Chief Willie Obiano, APGA’s candidate in tomorrow’s governorship election.

The Federal High Court sitting in Awka had, last Wednesday, also commenced hearing on the same matter brought by a human rights lawyer, Jezie Ekejiuba, challenging Obiano’s candidacy on account of multiple registration .

Two indigenes of the state, Ugochukwu Ikegwuonu and Kenneth Moneke, dragged Obiano and his party before the court seeking an order of mandatory injunction compelling the INEC)to strike out Obiano’s name from its record as a candidate in the election.

The plaintiffs equally want the court to declare that Obiano is unqualified to contest the election for allegedly possessing more than one voter cards; for allegedly engaging in multiple registration and for having allegedly supplied false information to INEC.

They also want the court to determine whether by his alleged conduct Obiano was still qualified to contest the election by virtue of the provisions of Sections 12(2), 16(2)(3) and 31(5) of the Electoral Act. During yesterday’s proceedings, Justice Mohammed, after listening to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ifeanyi Nrialike, moved an ex-parte motion and granted leave to the plaintiffs to effect substituted service of court processes on Obiano outside jurisdiction.

He added that Obiano could be removed from office if any irregularity is discovered after the election.

The judge also ordered the plaintiffs to paste the processes on the entrance or any other conspicuous parts of his residence at 1 Chief Willie Obiano Street, Aguleri Otuocha, Anambra State.

 

Sued with Obiano is the INEC

In the suit, the plaintiffs argued that the voter card Obiano tendered before his party to be allowed to participate in the party’s screening exercise was not the same as the one he submitted to INEC. In the affidavit in support of the originating summons, it was alleged that Obiano possessed two voter cards. It was alleged that he purportedly obtained one in Lagos, which he tendered during his party’s screening exercise in August, and the second he claimed to have obtained in Otuocha, Anambra, on September 3 this year, which he allegedly presented to INEC.

He gave the Voter Identification Number (VIN) on the first one as 90F5815E7D3738200332 and that on the second one as 90F5B12B01296204172. Ikegwuonu also queried Obiano’s claim to being a resident of Otuocha and the validity of the birth certificate he submitted to INEC. The court adjourned the case to December 18, 2013.

 

APC to Jonathan: Live up to your promise on credible poll

Meanwhile, the APC also yesterday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to live up to his promise of a free and fair election tomorrow.

Interim national publicity secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement made available in Lagos, said nothing was on ground in Anambra to suggest that Saturday’s election will be free, fair and transparent, despite the president’s promise.

“Rightly or wrongly in our country, institutions of state take a cue from the president’s body language. They know that members of the ruling PDP who engaged in electoral malfeasance and brigandage during last month’s Delta Central senatorial election were not punished. They know that security agencies that turned themselves to the armed wing of the PDP were not sanctioned. In this context, therefore, the president’s promise of a free and fair election will not mean much to those bent on repeating same in Anambra,’’ the statement read.

APC also said the fact that one of the candidates in Saturday’s election, Willie Obiano of APGA, has continued to evade justice despite a glaring electoral offence committed by him, through his proven multiple registration, does not give anyone much confidence that INEC can indeed be trusted to ensure a level-playing field for all the parties.

“President Jonathan should be careful in staking the credibility of his high office on these elections. His promise of free and fair elections in Ondo did not materialise, as the world knows, and the unprecedented electoral heist in Delta does not back up his administration’s claim that the country’s electoral architecture has improved under his watch.

“That is why we say the president must walk the talk. He should know that talk is cheap. If the institutions of state that have any role to play in the election fail to live up to that role, and the ruling party continues to engage in a flagrant abuse of office by stealing votes in the most blatant of manners, then the president’s promise of a free and fair election would have been rubbished,’’ the party said.

 

APGA, LP supporters clash in Nnewi

The APC’s warning came just as the APGA and LP supporters almost clashed yesterday at Nnewi, the countryhome of the late national leader of APGA, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Nnewi is also the countryhome of the LP candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah. But for the quick intervention of the state governor, Mr Peter Obi, who led the APGA campaign train, supporters of the two political parties would have engaged in a free for all at the former Nkwo Nnewi Triangle.

Trouble started when the APGA campaign train arrived atbthe Nkwo Triangle and discovered that the LP candidate and his supporters had already taken over the area campaigning, distributing materials and sharing money, including dollars, and APGA had earlier prepared the venue for their rally.

As some APGA faithful led by one Igwe were spoiling for war, Chief Ben Obi (Mbuze Agulu) was advising LP people to leave to avoid a showdown.  Governor Obi, sensing what was happening immediately sped off. This was how the entire convoy joined him to a safer place. Governor Obi later urged APGA people to avoid anything that could lead to violence in the election.

 

IGP orders restriction of movement

Meanwhile, the inspector-general of police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, has ordered restriction of movement in and out of Anambra starting today up to Sunday.

A statement issued by CSP Frank Mba, the force public relations officer, on Thursday said that the restriction would be between 6pm and 6am for each of the days.

“The Nigeria Police High Command has ordered a restriction of movement within the boundaries of Anambra State with effect from 6.00pm on Friday, 15th November, 2013 to 6.00am on Sunday, 17th November, 2013.

“However, those on essential duties are not affected by this order. Consequently, all states contiguous to Anambra, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Abia will be heavily policed,” it said.

The statement said the restriction was in furtherance of strategies designed to prevent electoral fraud and violence and ensure a smooth and orderly conduct of the election. It also barred all security details from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election.

“Only police personnel specifically assigned for election duties must be seen within and around the election-designated places,” the statement said.

 

633 observers to monitor poll

In a related event, about 633 observers have been designated to be observers at tomorrow’s poll. Mr Ibrahim Zikirullah, the chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), stated this yesterday. Zikirullahi said at a news conference in Awka that 600 observers would be deployed in pairs to 300 polling units that have been randomly sampled across the state.

This comes as the Civil Rights Group yesterday raised the alarm over alleged plans by some politicians to influence voting by proxy.

According to him, TMG will closely watch the process and record answers to 36 questions on the conduct of the election and send reports to the National Information Centre.

“This will allow TMG to share with the country a truly representative and detailed picture of the conduct of the poll.

“TMG will also verify the accuracy of the official results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the results were not tampered with between the polling unit and collation centres,” Zikirullahi said.

A civil rights group based in Anambra State, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), which raised the proxy alarm, accused desperate contestants in tomorrow’s governorship election of purchasing voter cards to be given to their trusted supporters for voting.

In a letter to the state resident electoral commissioner yesterday, signed by the chairman, Board of Trustees of Intersociety, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, the group urged INEC to instruct its officials to ensure that only those their image were reflected in their voter cards were allowed to vote.

They hinted that selling of voter cards in the riverine areas including Anambra East, Anambra West and Ayamelum local government areas was going on and urged the INEC to be vigilant and ensure that their staff did not sell out to the desperate politicians.

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