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Ohanaeze lauds Igbo’s turnout, Agbaje deplores election violence

By Seye Olumide (Lagos), Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka), Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
26 February 2019   |   4:21 am
The national leader of the Ohaneze Ndigbo youth wing worldwide, Ambassador Arthur Uchenna Obiorah, has commended people of the South East for heeding...

[FILES] Voters stand in a queue to cast their vote at one of the polling units in Lagos on February 23, 2019. (Photo by STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP)

• Hoodlums burn Imo INEC office
• CSOs urge probe of perceived polls’ lapses

The national leader of the Ohaneze Ndigbo youth wing worldwide, Ambassador Arthur Uchenna Obiorah, has commended people of the South East for heeding the call of the President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Dr. Nnia Nwodo, to support the presidential aspiration of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.

Addressing a news conference yesterday in Awka, Obiorah extolled Ndigbo for their steadfastness and camaderie, especially the large turnout, at the weekend’s polls.

The youths hoped that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would deliver to the people the “much-desired results to get the country working again.”

The youth leader urged Nigerians to be prayerful and have confidence in the country’s electoral umpire to deliver to them the “people’s awaited mandate unfiltered.”

He deplored the attacks on voters during balloting in areas believed to be Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) strongholds in Lagos and parts of the federation.

On the Lagos incident where thugs allegedly invaded, snatched ballot boxes and burnt the votes, he absolved the Igbo community in the widely reported Okota-Isolo attack.

Obiorah, who praised the Yoruba people for their hospitality, cautioned against dissemination of inciting information to sustain the existing peace among the ethnic nationalities.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, has condemned what he described as the harassment and prevention of the party’s supporters from voting in their strongholds during the presidential and federal legislative elections.

He also decried the destruction of ballot papers and boxes by political thugs.

In a chat with reporters yesterday in Lagos, Agbaje commiserated with the injured and those disenfranchised by the thuggish activities.

Urging residents to remain calm and vigilant, he charged security agents to henceforth protect voters and the ballot in line with their constitutional duties.

On his part, former president of Aka Ikenga and a lawyer, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, regretted that the relative peace enjoyed in Lagos and Rivers was shattered by the “agents of the devil on Saturday as they threatened mayhem on the hapless residents of the two states.”

Meanwhile, hoodlums in the early hours of yesterday set ablaze the Imo office of INEC in Isiala Mbano Local Council.

The spokesperson of the commission in the state, Mrs. Emmanuella Ben-Opara, confirmed the incident in a statement.

Also yesterday, the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room called on the electoral and security agencies to account for acts that impugn on the integrity and credibility of the polls.

Its head, Clement Nwankwo, said attention should be focused on individuals complicit in the burning of INEC offices, election materials, snatching of ballot boxes and other electoral offences.

He submitted that there should be an independent inquiry into the alleged poor management of the entire process by the electoral umpire.

Nwankwo maintained that “INEC is expected to inquire into the activities of its staff with respect to late arrivals to polling stations, lack of understanding of processes by ad hoc staff and the allegations of collusion between staff and politicians.”