Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State on Thursday accused Prof Nnenna Nnannaya-Oti, the Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the just-concluded March 18 governorship election in the state of being unfair to all parties that participated in the poll.
Ikpeazu, who spoke on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme, said Nnannaya-Oti was “visibly happy” that she “favoured” the Labour Party (LP).
The outgoing governor also said before the poll, he carried out some background checks on the returning officer and complained to INEC that she won’t be fair in the electoral process but got assurances from the electoral umpire.
On March 22, Nnannaya-Oti, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, declared LP’s Alex Otti the winner of the March 18 governorship election in Abia. The declaration followed the resumption of the final collation of governorship election results in Umuahia, the state capital over 48 hours after INEC suspended the exercise in the South-East state.
The LP candidate trounced his opponents like Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Enyinnaya Nwafor of the Young Peoples Party (YPP). Otti scored 175,467, Ahiwe polled 88,529 while Nwafor got 28,972. The LP candidate also won 10 of the 17 local government areas in the state, PDP got six while the YPP got one.
About a week after, on March 28, the returning office said she was threatened and pressured to manipulate the result of the poll but she stood her ground.
Asked to comment on the allegations of the returning officer, Ikpeazu, whose candidate and partyman, Ahiwe lost the election, described the comment of Nnannaya-Oti as “unfortunate”.
The outgoing governor said, “This is very unfortunate. I have not met that professor and I am shocked because in the first place, if she is a professor, she doesn’t even have the capacity to manipulate results because these are results that emanated from the units, collected at the wards, collected at the local governments and brought for her to just add them up and announce.
“I’ve not met her before; I’ve not spoken to her. If I have met her, if I have spoken to her, let her come to the public and declare so. So, I am shocked that she is making a big noise out of nothing.”
‘I Knew She Would Be Unfair’
Ikpeazu also said he knew the returning officer would be “unfair” due to the coincidence in her name and that of the LP candidate.
“At some point when I saw the coincidence in name and trace a little bit of her background, I complained to INEC that this lady was not going to be fair but they assured me that they profiled her. I am still shocked,” he said.
“What she has betrayed in the aftermath of her service or stewardship in Abia, indicates that fact that she is visibly happy with what she did. Her level of bias in that regard could be placed in favour of a party.
“She has betrayed that she has something at the back of mind before she came.”