The Returning Officer for the Imo West senatorial election on Saturday, Prof Innocent Ibeawuchi, has alleged that he was forced to declare Governor Rochas Okorocha the winner of the poll by the supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.
Backstory: The results reported showed that Okorocha polled 97,762 votes to win the election ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Jones Onyereri who polled 68,117 votes, and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Osita Izunaso who polled 30,084 votes.
Ibeawuchi stated while addressing reporters after announcing the result on Monday in Owerri, that he was held hostage from 7 pm on Sunday till 11 am on Monday.
He added that he had to announce the election results, which were inconclusive due to electoral fraud in eight LGAs because he feared for his life.
He said he was rescued after he had announced the result by policemen and soldiers.
Ibeawuchi said “I was compelled to announce the result which was inconclusive. I am a man of integrity and it is not true that the governor slapped me but I was held hostage by agents working for him. I was manhandled and I thank God I came back alive.”
Okorocha’s response: The governor has dismissed the allegations while insisting that he deserved to win the election.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor described the returning officer as “a bloody liar who may be acting a script.”
He said, “Having won in nine out of the 12 local government areas announced, we heard that they were trying to move the result sheets to Owerri but when we demanded an explanation, the man (Ibeawuchi) said he was tired and didn’t feel safe when nobody was threatening him.”
The governor added “They should examine the returning officer to know his mental state. If he doesn’t have a mental illness, then he must be a criminal to ever think of that. How could someone ask you to change the result of an election he has already won?”
“I asked the Resident Electoral Commissioner here to quickly correct these anomalies. The returning officer is a bloody liar who may be acting a script,” the statement added.