It is no longer news that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Abia North senatorial election re-run, Senator Mao Arukwe Ohuabunwa, winner of the March 5 election.
Declaring the result at about 1.45pm on Sunday, March 6, 2016, at Ohafia collation center, the INEC Returning Officer, Dr. Ojike Nwankwo, announced that Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa scored 26,009 votes to defeat the rest of the pack including the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) candidate who polled a total of 25, 814 votes, while Chief David Ogba Onuoha (Bourdex) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) scored 13,633 votes. Similarly, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Nma Lancaster Okoro polled 976 votes, while Oji Nwachukwu of the Labour Party (LP) had 147 votes.
Controversy seemed to have reigned supreme when Dr. Nwachukwu declared the election as inconclusive in the early hours of Sunday March 6 at Ohafia collation centre. Agents of the PDP and other party stalwart protested against the announcement. In the midst of the apparent confusion, the INEC officials reportedly moved to the state office in Umuahia after declaring the election inconclusive. They were however asked to return to Ohafia and declare the winner of the poll. The directive was immediately complied with and Sen. Ohuabunwa was declared winner of the election at the INEC collation centre in Ohafia.
Meanwhile, both the PPA and the APGA have rejected the outcome of the election. At separate press conferences in Umuahia, the parties condemned the outcome of the election, citing the disenfranchising of voters in eight wards of the senatorial zone and massive irregularities allegedly witnessed during the election as some of their reasons.
As is fast becoming customary with most Nigerian elections in recent times, voter aparthy also marred the outcome of the poll. In most polling units visited by Aro News correspondents in Arochukwu, there was a low turnout of voters. In most of the units visited, INEC officials reported early for duty as it employed the accreditation and immediate voting process, while the heavens opened up and released its contents in showers.
The battle for seats in the hallowed chambers of the Senate to represent the people of Abia North has been described as one of the fiercest political battles in the history of the state. The three leading candidates in the race embarked on serious political campaigns to woo the electorates after the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri nullified the election of Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa in December 2015.
As Mao returns to the Senate, it is expected that he will continue his legislative duties from where he stopped in December 2015, as the upper legislative chambers’ Chairman, Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases, Vice Chairman, Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity, member of Public Petitions; Science and Technology; Works; Appropriation; Ethics and Privileges etc.