Why APC lost Imo in presidential poll – Ibeh | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why APC lost Imo in presidential poll – Ibeh

Posted: Apr 5, 2015 at 3:29 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Chidi Ibeh is the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Imo State. In this interview with Senior Correspondent, ANOLU VINCENT, he recounts his ordeal in the hands of security agents during the presidential election and explains why the APC lost the election in the state. Excerpts…



How would you assess the just concluded presidential election, especially in Imo State? 

The election has come and gone and I thank God that people came out en masse and participated in the exercise. The victory of the presidential candidate of our great party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), after all campaign of calumny, unprecedented character assassination, humiliation on the pages of newspaper by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a  pointer to the fact that destiny  can only be delayed but  cannot be denied. It is a clear vindication of his innocence over all forces of darkness orchestrated by agents of Satan. Here in Imo State, the people were prepared for the election and voted massively for the APC. Unfortunately, the PDP used armed soldiers to manipulate the results of the election in their own favour.  We won convincingly in all the seats but armed military personnel and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), especially the ad hoc staff, acting on the orders of the PDP, rewrote the results and announced same to a bewildered electorate. This is not the type of democracy we expect in this country.  We have come of age when people should be allowed to exercise their franchise in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation, coercion or harassment. In virtually all the polling  stations,  soldiers  were ubiquitous, brandishing their guns and wielding horse whips and this  unquestionably frightened our people, thousands of our members and supporters some of who  were arrested and whisked to unknown destinations and held  hostage till the election  was over. This, notwithstanding, our people voted massively for General  Buhari and he is aware of  this except that  the enemies  of democracy stole our votes.

So, how is the APC in Imo preparing for the governorship election, at least to guard against the pitfalls of the last election? 

The victory of  General Buhari has vindicated Governor  Rochas  Okorocha who I can now describe as the Nostradamus of our  time.  The governor foresaw the victory of General Buhari in the last election and cleverly decided to join the APC which has strong prospects for the Igbo nation.  Remember that the governor had consistently warned the Igbo to desert the PDP in order to liberate themselves from their shackles of neglect, marginalization and suppression in the nation’s scheme of things. But with Buhari in the driver’s seat now, the Igbo are now in the mainstream of the nation’s body politic. General Buhari will remedy the wrongs and move  the nation forward. We are more than ever prepared for the governorship election, and there is no doubt about this.  The impeccable accomplishment of Governor Okorocha through his Rescue Mission Agenda will fetch us another resounding victory at the polls. The masses are solidly behind us because they appreciate the fact that this is really a government that has touched their lives in a number of ways.

It was alleged that you had a rough encounter with armed soldiers on that presidential election day, and that the soldiers manhandled you. What really happened?

Yes, I was manhandled by soldiers in my ward and these soldiers acted on the orders of the minister of state for Education, Professor Viola Onwuliri, who comes from the same ward with me. I was actually humiliated, intimidated, and castrated by armed soldiers. A day to that election, that  was Friday 27th of March, before  2am, armed soldiers stormed my house  in my village  and saw me addressing some  group of boys. They asked me some questions which I answered satisfactorily and after this, they insisted on searching my house. But I resisted and told  them that I would not allow this because  in the first place, I told them that I was not convinced that they were indeed soldiers and that they must produce an official warrant to search my house, given the current  security challenges in the country.

Frustrated in their mission, they  warned me not to come out for the election  proper but I told them that as a free citizen of this country, and an adult  who registered for the election , that  I must  come out  and exercise my franchise.

Thereafter, they left in their vehicles. The soldiers were about 50 in number and they were led by one captain Okoro who said that he did not owe me any explanation. By 7:45 am on the election day proper, the same squad arrived with the personal Assistant to the Minister of State  for Education who  on sighting  me told the soldiers,  “This is the man, arrest him,” then the soldiers said, “My friend, we warned you not to come out today but you have disobeyed us.” When  the officials  of the INEC there had distributed the election materials, my people  left and I accompanied them, and on getting to my own  community, I met the same Captain  Okoro who ordered the soldiers with him to beat me up and  I demanded to know  the offence that I had committed  to warrant  the beating. When information filtered to the youths in my village that I was being beaten by soldiers, the anger-stricken youths  quickly rushed to the scene in droves and completely blocked them and insisted that the soldiers must stop the beating  nd must not ferry me  away to any destination. When I refused to sit on the ground as ordered by captain Okoro, he reinforced  the troop by about 15 soldiers  who all started beating me again and this infuriated my community and when the commotion and pandemonium became  unbearable, the soldiers  brought a seat for me to sit and I was there till 3.30pm on that election day. It was after the intervention of a police officer from zone 9, Umuahia that the soldiers released me and asked me to go and to remain calm in my house and not to come out again, after holding me hostage between 9am and 30:30pm. It was not a funny situation because these are soldiers who were expected to protect lives and property and ensure order and sanity in society. But, alas, the soldiers were merely moving from one community to the other on the orders of the minister of state for Education harassing and intimidating people. They were assisted by the minister’s Aides and the minister brought them to do the dirty job.

This is unfortunate, nefarious and totally unacceptable because if we allow this dastardly act to reoccur, many people will be scared and discouraged from participating in the voting process in future elections.

Many people complained that the card reader did not capture their names during the last voting. Do you still have confidence in the use of the card reader for the 11th April governorship and State House of Assembly Elections?

Many people were bought over to condemn and to denounce the card reader. The card read has no problem at all and is perfectly in order. The torrent of condemnation of the card reader is a game plan by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to allow them to use the fake and fictitious cards which they had planned to use. They wanted us to abandon the use of the readers to enable them to make use of the fictitious registration they made.  The card readers are effective and have no problem at all. The Chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru  Jega, should urgently reorganize the Resident  Electoral  Commissioners (REC) in the various  states because it is now quite obvious that they have different  intentions and ulterior motives. He should do this before the April 11 election. The election of General Buhari (retd) under the platform of the APC by Nigerians has indeed vindicated the governor as a hero.  Ordinarily, as things stand now, the position of the President of the Senate is due for the South-East, but because the PDP stole all our votes we do not have a single senate seat. Many of the PDP senators are now anxiously angling to join the APC in order to grab the seat. General Buhari (retd), as I said, will still consider us (the South-East) based on the distribution of the dividends of democracy.

How will you assess the integrity of INEC in Imo State?

The commission in Imo has regrettably compromised and I do not see them being above board, sincere and transparent in subsequent elections.   INEC ad-hoc staff unashamedly thumb printed ballot papers for the PDP in the last election in the presence of soldiers and policemen.  The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state having compromised, all other staff under him did the same thing with impunity. He can still beat a retreat to maintain his integrity. He can train and retrain his staff and give them the right instruction to do what is right before God and man.