The Anambra State governorship election was eventually concluded this morning as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced former Central Bank governor and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, as winner of the poll that began on Saturday.
INEC had declared the election inconclusive on Sunday after no votes were cast in Ihiala Council, hence the supplementary election.
After taking a comfortable lead in Saturday’s election, winning 18 of 20 councils declared, Soludo led the poll with 103,946 votes while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Valentine Ozigbo, had 51,322 votes.
Presenting the final poll result at 1:52a.m. at the State Collation Centre, Awka, INEC Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof Florence Obi, declared Soludo winner of the election after winning Ihiala to take his tally to 19 councils out of 21, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Youths Progressives Party (YPP) both have one local government area each. APC failed to win any council in the election.
The supplementary election got underway after about two hours of delay. Some early birds who thronged the council to witness the distribution of materials were barred by security operatives.
EARLIER, an APGA chieftain, Senator Victor Umeh, was denied access to Ihiala Council headquarters by the army securing the council.
Umeh, who is the party’s state agent for the election, arrived at the council headquarters around 10:30a.m. accompanied by other party members before he was turned away by a superior army officer despite stating his reason for being in the vicinity.
The army officer had barked at Umeh to leave the headquarters since he was a party agent and not a local government agent.
As the rerun election went underway, unknown gunmen, suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), engaged security operatives in a shootout for about three hours at the border town of Orsumoghu. The town is about two kilometres from Orsu Council of Imo State.
At the Mbosi Orsumoghu/Azia junction, a group of journalists monitoring the election in Ihiala ran into the security personnel comprising soldiers, police, civil defence, among others, who asked them to turn back immediately because IPOB was operating in the area.
They added that following the superior firepower of security operatives, the gunmen ran into the bush.
The unknown gunmen were suspected to be going to the Ihiala council headquarters, where collation of the supplementary election would hold later in the day.
“For your own safety, just turn back to Ihiala and drive through Onitsha to Awka. If you pass through this place, those people may attack you,” they advised.
The development forced joint security operatives to block the Osumoghu junction bordering Imo State.
Meanwhile, the police have denied reports of any killing by soldiers in Ihiala after an unconfirmed report stated that soldiers patrolling around the distribution/collation centre reportedly shot dead someone.
When contacted on the telephone, the public relations officer of Zone 13 Police Headquarters, Ukpo, Nkeiru Nwode, said there was nothing like that. “We don’t have such report and I don’t think something like that happened,” she said.
THE governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Akachukwu Nwakpo, said he supported and voted for APGA in the supplementary election, yesterday, because the results of the election announced so far reflected the wish and mandate of the people.
Nwakpo, who disclosed this to newsmen after voting at his polling unit 004 Ward 01 at Umuatani Hall, Okija, Ihiala, said: “We believe it is time to finish this election by helping the winning party to make it to the end, so that the military can leave and we can have a more relaxed environment for us to focus on issues that concern our communities.
“Also, the leadership of my party, ADC, agreed with what we have done because we are not in the supplementary election and we did not score or get enough votes to be competitive.
“APGA is also a sister party because the founding members of APGA founded ADC and I also came from APGA to ADC. More so, Soludo is my friend. So, I feel this is an opportunity to support one another and for us to build together and let our people be part of governance,” he said.
A large turnout of voters was reported across all polling units in Ihiala.
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Obinna Uzor, also expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the rerun election.
He told reporters after casting his vote at Umunnamehi community school 3, PU024 ward 1, that he was hopeful and prayed that a good leader would emerge to encourage peace and development in Anambra.