The Returning Officer for the Imo West senatorial election on Saturday, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi, has alleged that he was forced to declare Governor Rochas Okorocha the winner .
According to the result, Okorocha polled 97,762 votes to win the election ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Mr Jones Onyereri (68,117) and All Progressive Grand Alliance’s Osita Izunaso (30,084).
Ibeawuchi claimed, while addressing reporters after announcing the result on Monday in Owerri, that he was held hostage from 7pm on Sunday till 11am on Monday.
He said, “
I was compelled to announce the result which was inconclusive. I am a man of integrity and it is not true that the governor slapped me but I was held hostage by agents working for him. I was manhandled and I thank God I came back alive.”
In response ,Okorocha dismissed the allegations, insisting he deserved to win the election.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor described the returning officer as “a bloody liar who may be acting a script”.
He said, “
“I ask the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), here, to quickly correct these anomalies.
“The returning officer is a bloody liar, who may be acting a script. I enjoin him to return the money he may have collected from those who understand only rigging in election.
“They should examine the returning officer to know his mental state. If he is not mental, then, he must be a criminal to have ever thought of that.
“How could someone ask you to change the result of an election he has already won? My score is above 90,000, and the nearest to me is slightly above half of it, when you combine both Jones and Izunaso’s votes.
“They can’t match or contest against me in Imo State, not to talk of Orlu zone. Am I even supposed to contest for Senate in Orlu; I never campaigned, but only declared and campaigned for three days.”
Having won in nine out of the 12 local government areas announced, we heard that they were trying to move the result sheets to Owerri but when we demanded an explanation, the man (Ibeawuchi) said he was tired and didn’t feel safe, when nobody was threatening him. At the end, we discovered that he didn’t have the declaration sheet. I wonder where this is taking us. I hope INEC would change this system because we will resist them if they try it in the next election.”