Professor I. Ibeabuchi, the Returning Officer for Imo West Senatorial District and other staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo State are currently being held hostage in Owerri, the Imo State capital, by Governor Rochas Okorocha and his thugs, with security operatives looking the other way.
An election observer at the Imo West Senatorial District Collation centre in Orlu told SaharaReporters that Okorocha and his thugs stormed the centre on Monday morning and threatened that neither Ibeabuchi nor other INEC staff would be allowed to leave the venue until they had declared the Governor winner.
Okorocha, the outgoing Governor, is seeking the Imo West senatorial district ticket, having been Governor since 2011.
“As I speak to you, the INEC staff at the collation centre are being detained right there. Their lives are in danger” the observer said.
“The Governor suddenly showed up at the collation centre and said he must be declared winner; he threatened them that they could not leave the place. All of them are in fear; and in fairness to them, we were all expecting the security agents to act but they simply did not do anything. Our worry now is that if the INEC staff have to choose between their own lives and the Governor’s victory, it is bad news for Nigerian democracy.”
SaharaReporters understands that even the life of Professor Francis Ezeonu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), has been threatened.
Okorocha, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, was leading the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the collation of results in eight of the 12 local government areas in the district. However, results in the outstanding local governments could still hand victory to his opponent.