Imo State, the only foothold of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the Southeast was keenly contested last Saturday. The campaign in the state was led by Governor Rochas Okorocha for the APC and Chief Emeka Ihedioha, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Besides their different interests in having their parties win the presidential and National Assembly elections, both men are also squaring up in the forthcoming governorship election.
It was as such not surprising that the two men brought passion and puff to the campaign. Following the reported arrest of some officials of the state government and graduates of the Okorocha Foundation, the two men, in different interviews, monitored on Channels Television, gave their accounts on what happened.
OUR democracy is under siege in Imo — Okorocha
Imo state had their collation centres raided by Military, I am not telling you about what happened yesterday but what is happening as I am talking with you right now. It is ongoing now and if you go to Ngor Okpalla now, you will see the military going inside the collating centres with the returning officers.
As at yesterday when they arrested the youths who are supposed to vote, boys and girls, some of them were students of Rochas foundation who schooled in my village.
Those students were registered and when they came to vote, they arrested them and kept them in a cell. When I came there, I called the Director of Security Service, he said to me that they are under-aged and I argued who is under-aged? I said can you keep a minor in a cell for 48 hours?
I told him they are not under-age and they are registered with their PVCs. He told me they came from another place to vote. I told him it is not possible for them to come from another place to vote. I asked him to check their PVCs so he could ascertain if it correlates with where they are.
I also called the Army commander and he told me it was the DSS who directed him that I should talk to him. From time to time, I spoke with them but there was no result. But the most shocking thing is that immediately after the elections, yesterday, those children were released and they let them go.
What is happening is very worrisome, the way the military has conducted themselves right now in this state is very sad.
Let me tell you, it is a frightening situation. Even as a governor, I went to one of the centres myself and one of my aides was trying to video my discussion with the military, they beat the hell out of him in my presence and put a gun on his head.
I have never seen this kind of thing in my life before, this is assault and intimidation, it is something I cannot imagine. I just want the world to understand that Imo State is passing through difficult times and our democracy is under danger here.
Okorocha was caught in the act — Emeka Ihedioha
Our constitution says children and the under-aged should not be allowed to vote and he has said that the children from Okorocha Foundation were prevented from voting.
First, he has admitted that they were children, the children are under-aged and of course you know they are not eligible to vote. As a matter of fact, I think the security agencies were being lenient with those children otherwise, they should have been candidates for prison. So, you cannot begin to undermine the election process in such a manner and expect the nation to fold its arms and let you do what you ought not to do.
Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha
The security agencies were at their best because where you notice issues of mal-practice the security agencies reacted immediately. I will give you an instance, yesterday at my ward, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okorocha was picked up for issues bothering on electoral malpractice because he was trying to arm twist the process outside the polling booth. Stories are abound all over Imo State that eight aides of the governor were arrested with riffles, life ammunitions in their homes. Are they telling me that because there is election, everybody should go and get riffles in their homes?
These are facts that can be verified from security agencies that they were carrying machete, guns and without the security agencies there would have been a lot of bloodshed in Imo state. So I commend them for their actions and I can say what they did is what brought about peace in the state.
The governor wanted a lawless situation because he has lost touch with the people and he is aware people are ready to vote him out. APC is not popular in Imo State, the PDP remains on top. In all the results that have come from Owerri Zone, PDP won in virtually all the electoral wards and the situation is not different from all over the state.
Collation in my ward lasted till late last night yesterday except some other wards I am not aware of but I am surprised the governor is saying all he said.
That soldiers are involved is untrue, where were they involved? Basically the military were involved to maintain law and order. What has happened is that there was importation of arms by the governor and his party and they want their people to cause a lot of mayhem and based on tip off, we acted.
Or are you saying because a governor wants to win election, we should become a lawless state? Or because he wants the members of his party to win elections, then the security agencies should fold their arms at the expense of peace and security which is the primary responsibility of government.
The truth of the matter is that he intended to massively rig but he was caught in the act and that is why he is running from pillar to post, so he has been giving wrong impression across the nation.
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