A mild drama is currently ongoing at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State where the senatorial district results are being collated.
The drama started when I.I Ibeabuchi, the returning officer for Imo West senatorial district, halted the process, saying he has been directed by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) to “return to Owerri, the state capital.”
The outgoing governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, is leading in the senatorial election results for Imo West so far, as announced at the INEC office.
He is winning in eight out of the 12 local governments in the district.
Mr Ibeabuchi, a professor in Federal University Technology Owerri (FUTO), have so far collated results for nine of the local government before he stopped the process.
Three LGA results is being awaited to finalize results for Imo west district. They are Oru West, ugwuta and Orlu.
Mr Ibeabuchi said due to the urgent call for him to return to Owerri, he would have to adjourn the process till Monday morning but Mr Okorocha’s All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters would have none of it.
They insisted the returning officer “must complete” announcing the results, “otherwise, he is not going anywhere.”
The party supporters blocked the professor from leaving the building. They refused to yield even when police officers intervened in the ensued drama.
The muddle, which started shortly after the last LGA was announced around 9:35 p.m. have lasted for almost three hours, with Mr Ibeabuchi neither agreeing to continue nor the party supporters allowing him to go.
In the ensuing drama, the presiding officers of the three remaining LGAs arrived with the results being awaited.
The APC members remained undeterred in spite of a directive from the Area commander of Orlu LGA for the returning officer be allowed to leave for Owerri.
“We can never allow him to leave. It will not happen. We have received reports that they want to change the results announced so far on their way to Owerri,” a visibly angry APC member said.
“You cannot be another Gulak,” he quipped, referring to Ahmed Gulak who led a presidential Committee that conducted the party’s governorship primaries that saw the fall of Mr Okorocha’s son-in-law and anointed candidate, Uche Nwosu.
Mr Ibeabuchi is currently resting in his chair as at the time of filing this report (12:15 a.m.), this time, insisting he be allowed to rest.
But party members refused, saying the results must be completed at once.
Mr Okorocha’s is currently leading his closest challenger, Jones Onyeriri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), followed by his old rival, Osita Izunaso who ran under All Progressives Grand Alliances (APGA). He is coming behind Mr Onyeriri in the results so far, from the zone.
The race for Imo West Senate seat is considered the first test for the governors’ political survival in the state.