Protests at Imo State Collation Centre: Allegations of Hurried Results
On Sunday at the Imo State Collation Centre in Owerri, the capital city, a wave of protests erupted as party agents expressed their dissatisfaction with the seemingly rushed collation of results for the November 11, 2023, governorship poll.
Party Agents Voice Concerns: Grievances Against Hurried Collation
Amidst the commotion, one party agent questioned the haste in commencing the collation process, emphasizing the lack of allowance for party agents to voice their grievances.
The agent expressed concern, stating, “Why are we in a hurry to start collation? Party agents are not allowed to express their grievances. The world is watching.”
State Returning Officer’s Firm Stance: Collation Will Proceed
Despite the protests, the state Returning Officer, Prof Abayomi Fashina, stood firm on proceeding with the collation.
Undeterred by the objections, Fashina insisted on the continuation of the process, adding a layer of tension to the already charged atmosphere.
Aggrieved Party Agent’s Plea: Submission of Petition to INEC Chairman
In the midst of the unrest, another visibly aggrieved party agent sought permission to submit a petition to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The agent cited concerns over voter intimidation, vote buying, violence, and alleged irregularities in polling units, emphasizing the need for attention to these issues.
Claims of Election Irregularities: Allegations of Manufactured Results and Counterarguments
The male agent from an opposition party claimed that the election experienced voter intimidation, vote buying, and violence. Furthermore, he asserted that voting did not take place in some polling units in Imo.
The agent also accused collation officers at the local government areas (LGAs) of manufacturing results. A swift denial from one of the LGA collation officers ensued, with opposition party agents standing in solidarity with their colleague who raised the concerns.
Fashina’s Authority and Response: Collation Adjourned Briefly
In response to the allegations and counterarguments, Fashina asserted his authority, stating, “I don’t have the mandate to receive a petition from anybody.
I am the chairman of this collation centre, you don’t talk when I don’t authorise you to talk.” The returning officer, in an attempt to address the brewing tensions, adjourned the collation briefly to resolve lingering issues and await results from other LGAs. The pause provided a momentary reprieve in a charged environment.