By Prince Eze
Following what it described as activities aimed at compromising the 2023 general election in Imo State, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in the state has called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to call the Imo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Sylvia Agu to order.
In a protest letter signed by members of the Imo IPAC G-12, the group’s release reads; “We the undersigned 12 political parties (G12} within the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC)Imo State, do hereby register our protest and condemn can in its entirety the ploy of the APC led Government of Imo State through the Imo State Resident Electoral (REC), Prof. Sylvia Agu who has surreptitiously and in the most Clandestine manner concluded strange and evil arrangements to compromise the forthcoming Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives Elections in 3 LGAs jof Imo State vis- Orlu LGA,Orsu LGA and Okigwe LGA having mapped out 6RA s (Pooling Units)from each LGA’s aforementioned for relocation to their various LGA’s STADIUM otherwise called IDPs, with the announcement of that of Okigwe Local Government Area by the Imo REC as a test case; an act done altra vires of all extant laws regulating the official powers of every REC of the various States of Nigeria vide INEC Guidelines, Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and without the required due consultations, consent and authority of the heads of the various POLITICAL PARTIES and other stakeholders of Imo State first sought and obtained, hence, we the undersigned 12 political Parties do hereby implore You Sir, to use your good offices to call the Imo State REC-to order as she has been boastful that her actions in Imo State is in carrying out the instructions given to her from Abuja or in alternative her removal as Imo REC with dispatch”.
The opposition parties said that Imo REC at an Interactive Meeting with the critical stakeholders and Political Party Heads and Chieftains in Owerri disclosed that INEC had concluded and perfected plans to bring together the entire 6RA’s(the Polling Units) as IDPs in Okigwe Stadium, adding that many more in areas like Orsu and Orlu LGAs.
IPAC insinuated that if the Imo REC”s plans is “allowed to stand it will seriously Jeopardize the elections of the 25th February 2023 given the position of the Electoral Act of 2022,INEC Guidelines and the 1999 Constitution(as amended)”.
The group further accused Prof Agu of perfecting “plans with the APC led Government of Imo State to relocate many more Polling Units in Okigwe LGA to the Okigwe Township Stadium and announced same for their selfish interest without due process of law.
“This grand plan is designed to enable the APC led Government to hígh-jack the electoral process using their personal security forces and the disbanded Ebubeagu Militia by the Federal High Court to perfect Electoral rigging on behalf of the APC party.
“We therefore, call on the INEC National Chairman to call the Imo REC to order or remove and replace her as the under listed Political Parties of Imo State will do all within the ambit of the Law to resist this evil plot designed by the REC to benefit her paymasters.
It is sacrosanct that Section 6 of the INEC Regulation and Guideline for the Conduct of Election in Nigeria, provides that, voting in any election to which these regulations and guideline.applies shall take place at Polling Units Established by Constitution.
“To this end, Section 24 (a) of the Electoral Act, 2022 further states that the result of all the elections shall be announced by the Presiding officer at the Polling Units etc”.
Imo IPAC averred that the “Imo REC’s action therefore was done in bad faith as she cannot unilaterally relocate Polling Units of political Wards to a place her choice without carrying out very wide consultations for her to be empowered to do so, such act amounts to a joke taken too far and-is unacceptable to every Imolites.
“We further condemn in the most strongest term possible that the aforesaid unilaterally relocation of the Polling Units in Okigwe LGA or in any other parts of the State as the said relocation is to the detriment of the electorates who cannot transport themselves to an fro their Polling Units to the said Okigwe Stadium or any other designated Areas in the above mentioned 3 LGAs of the State.
“Furthermore, the Imo REC’s action so far will not only disenfranchise eligible voters, but would also short-change Candidates of Political Parties and their teeming VOTERS as every voter is legally expected to vote within a close distance; and, in observing a strict No Vehicular movements order to none Election Duty Personnel’s within 8am- 3pm clearly demonstrates a serious foul play by the actions of the said REC”, IPAC stated.
The opposition political parties in Imo urged INEC Chairman to intervene timeously to save the proposed 25th February 2023 Election in Imo from being hijacked by the ruling APC through the REC.
The G-12 members of Imo IPAC are Accord, AA, SDP, PDP, ADC, YPP, APP, Labour Party, ADP, APGA, NRM and NNPP.