PDP used army, police to intimidate Imo voters –Onyemaechi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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PDP used army, police to intimidate Imo voters –Onyemaechi

Posted: Apr 23, 2015 at 1:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Alan Onyemaechi is the Special Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Inter-party Affairs. He speaks to Senior CORRESPONDENT, ANOLU VINCENT, on the just-concluded presidential election in the state, the inconclusive governorship election  and what Igbo expect from the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. Excerpts…

The presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone. What is your assessment of the whole exercise in Imo State?

Chief Alan Onyemaechi

Chief Alan Onyemaechi

Till today, I still feel very very disappointed with the outcome of that election in our state. Our people voted massively for General Buhari (retd) and for all candidates of our party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) but, alas, their votes were stolen in a broad day light by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who were aided and abetted by the police, army and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The APC, as a disciplined political party, took for granted the attitude of Nigerian politicians. For instance, we of the APC did not know that somebody would still go ahead to rig the election by snatching ballot boxes in the most bizarre, violent, and barbaric manner, using the Army, and the Police to harass and to intimidate innocent voters who abandoned their various engagements that day to exercise their franchise. Remember that before the election, all the participating parties collectively signed a peace accord to make the exercise hitch-free. For instance, at Aboh Mbaise where I come from, the PDP used the army and the Police to intimidate people with impunity, and we never knew that the police  and the army  could make themselves willing  tools in the hands of the desperate and power -thirsty PDP people. Be that as it may, Imo people have been forced to accept the quality of the representatives imposed on them by the PDP and who will represent them in Abuja which they never anticipated and bargained for. If the election had not been rigged, the PDP would not have won the three senatorial seats  in the state and this  has regrettably robbed the people  of the quality of people they actually wanted, such as Hon. Uche Onyeagocha for Imo East (Owerri zone);  Senator Osita Izunaso for Imo West (Orlu zone), and Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu- the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, for Imo  North (Okigwe zone). Apart from the PDP, all other political parties fronted better credible candidates. I do know that the APGA fielded better candidates in the three senatorial districts than the PDP did but they (the PDP) used Army and police to grab victory forcefully. However, I am optimistic that these electoral fraud would be rectified at the Election Petition Tribunal and victory  returned to their rightful owners for the people  to be given  a sense of confidence once more.

Given your admission that APC did not get what it had expected at the polls on Saturday 28th March, 2015, what was the magic wand behind the large votes garnered by the party in the inconclusive governorship election?

Remember that governor  Rochas Okorocha has in the past four (4) years  endeared himself to the masses  with his result oriented Rescue Mission Programmes that the people are rooting for him and actually demonstrated their unquenchable love for him on Saturday 11th April ,2015 with their votes and this did not come as a surprise. I want to tell you that if the Imo electorate had been allowed to vote according to their conscience and without being intimidated with the Army and the police by the PDP, the governor’s closest rival and main opponent, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, would not have scored up to 10,000 votes across the state. But by  using the Army and the police, the PDP was able to upturn the people’s mandate; by snatching  ballot boxes as early as 8am  and before 11: 30am they had concluded in some places which  is the official time accreditation ought to have been concluded. I think, INEC did very well because they prepared to conduct a very credible decent election but the PDP being what they are would not allow this to happen.  I want to advise that all forms of electoral malpractices should be taken seriously and anybody found guilty of this be punished accordingly no matter how highly placed in society. INEC brought card reader for the a hitch  free election, but the PDP said “No” and went out  of their way to render the card reader unworkable in most places so as to bulldoze their way into power. In all places where the election took place smoothly, the card reader worked very well.

Is it true that the APC in the state entered into an Alliance with some members of the opposition parties to assist it to clinch victory at the polls for a pay-back later?

There was no alliance of any sort between the APC and the opposition in the state before, during, and after the elections. What happened was that there were some people who showed interest to join us. For Instance, the Owerri Zonal Political Forum (OZOPOF) and the Orlu Political Consultative Assembly (OPOCA) immediately after the presidential / NASS elections indicated interest to join us in our struggle because they had seen where the pendulum of the clock was going to giving to. We met with them and because we were going into the election with our best materials, they voluntarily undertook to deliver their own booths and wards for us. We have a sitting governor who is doing wonderfully well and everybody loves him and wants him to continue for more democracy dividends. Some candidates of the opposition parties who lost in their primaries for the National Assembly elections came and joined us to identify with us and that is the alliance some people are talking about, and I think it is quite a healthy development. Governor Rochas Okorocha got so many votes that even the PDP rigged votes could not cancel it or come closer to it and that was the game plan of those who hired police and the Army to rig Governor Okorocha is so popular among the people that whenever election  takes place, he will win  with a very wide margin.

It has been alleged that the Mbaise nation where you come from, before the election, threatened to ostracize any Mbaise son or daughter that would vote against the PDP governorship candidate,  Chief Emeka Ihedioha, who is their son. As an Mbaise son and a chieftain of the APC working for governor Okorocha, are you not bothered by this?

I do not have any regrets being a member of the APC and working for governor Okorocha.  As a matter of fact, I was really approached to work for Ihedioha who comes from my Local Government Area, Aboh Mbaise, but I refused and I told them that if it is for the purpose of winning the Imo State 2015 governorship election, that it would be rather difficult to beat governor Okorocha and there was a lot of campaign for this. Even a town crier went round and warned any Mbaise son or daughter that would not vote for Ihedioha to stay away from the polling booths on the  day of the election or to have himself /herself to blame.  I do recall that governor Okorocha once approached Chief Ihedioha and told him the need for him (Ihedioha) to join the APC and to assist him (Okorocha) in his efforts to enhance the welfare and collective interest of Ndigbo but he (Ihedioha) turned down this  request. In the request, Okorocha even assured him that  should the APC form the Federal  government in 2015, that he would help him to become the president of the Senate, yet he rebuffed this entreaty because of his unquenchable ambition to remove governor Okorocha and become the governor of the state. If President Goodluck Jonathan had not been defeated by General Buhari (retd) of the APC in the presidential election, Maybe Ihedioha would have realized his ambition but as the saying goes, “man proposes, God disposes.”