APGA Fails to Stop Imo Re-Run Polls
Owerri — Attempt by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which on Wednesday instituted an action against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging today’s “Supplementary Election” in Imo State hit the brick walls as the court failed to hear the matter.
Journalists waited for hours for the matter to be mentioned but the judge who was assigned to hear the matter did not show up.
The plaintiffs who dismissed the “Supplementary Election lection” into the office of the governor of Imo state alien to our law had wanted the court to hold that it is unconstitutional and in violation of the provision of section 24(7) &(8) of the electoral Act2000(as amended).
Bob Kay Njemanze, Kingsley Ihegworo, Chief Alan Onyemaechi, Nwokedi Jideofor and Emmanuel Ihim who are plaintiffs in yesterday’s suit wanted the court to declare that “April 27 is the last day limited by the Electoral Act and the constitution for holding election into the office of the governor of Imo state this by reason that thirty (30) days before expiration fells on the day before expiration which is May 28, 2011, the governor having been sworn into office on May 29 2007?.
They asked the court to declare that any election by whatever description conducted by the defendant into the office of the governor outside the period limited by law is unconstitutional, void and of no effect whatsoever. They also sought an order of injunction restraining the defendants from conducting the supplementary Election on the May 6, 2011 or in any other date into the office of the governor of Imao State.
While citing the case of Peter Obi versus INEC on the need for parties to maintain status-quo during the pendency of an action, the plaintiffs wrote a letter Prof Attahiru Jega Chairman of INEC advising him not to conduct today’s “Supplementary Election.
The letter reads in part: “In view of the pendency of the matter, we advice that the proposed “Supplementary Election” for Friday 6th May 2011 be suspended forthwith pending the determination of the substantive suit and the pending applications so as not to pre-empt the court”.
The incumbent, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Rochas Okorocha of APGA were running neck and neck in the governorship election before it was declared inconclusive by INEC
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the state for today’s supplementary governorship and house of assembly election in four local government areas of the state with the deployment of Deputy Inspector General of Police Mrs. Ivy Okoronkwo and four police commissioners to take charge of security during the excercise.
Also four Resident Electoral Commissioners and four national commissioners of INEC were on ground as at yesterday to conduct the poll which will hold in Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Mbaitoli, Ngor Okpala local governments and Orji ward in Owerri North Local governments.
To complement the efforts of the police were soldiers and members of the paramilitary outfits including the road safety, civil defense corps, customs and immigration. Already members of anti-terrorists and mobile policemen have been deployed to strategic points across the state. The ever busy Owerri- Port Harcourt road housing the INEC office has been cordoned off by soldiers. Vehicular movement is not allowed on the area as a result of which motorists now divert to ring roads and streets to come into Owerri.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the headquarters of the police command, DIG Okoronkwo said the security beef up was informed by the desire of Nigerian Police to uncompromisingly execute its statutory functions of ensuring security for all persons involved in either voting or conduct of election before, during and after the supplementary election in the state.
“As you all know, the issue of security during this type of exercise is bestowed on the police and to this end, over ten thousand personnel will be deployed to the affected areas. This number is made up of men from anti-riot PMF, anti- terrorism squad (ATS) conventional policemen and anti-Bomb squad. Sister security agencies will also provide a good number of their personnel to complement our efforts and each polling unit is to be adequately manned and in addition we also have vehicular patrols covering all areas where election will hold”, she said.
She reiterated that vehicular movement would be restricted from 10 pm yesterday to 6 am today and from 8 am today to 10 pm excluding those on essential services and other duties relating to conduct of election. She said political office holders and other persons availed with the service of police personnel or members of security outfits are barred from visiting polling stations accompanied by such security aides.
She warned that thuggery and hooliganism will not be tolerated in any part of the state and anybody caught with any offensive weapon will have himself to blame. “I wish to sound a strong note of warning that before, during or after the elections any individual or group no matter how highly placed or otherwise who may be tempted for whatever reasons to embark on use of incisive statements, rumour mongering or any other act capable of jeopardizing public safety would be made to face the full wrath of the law. To be forewarned is to be forearmed”, she said