2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
ENUGU: Frank Nweke Jr, APGA Guber candidate, rejects outcome of gov’ship election
…vows to “exhaust every action required to ensure the legitimacy of the next government in the state”
Chetanne Chinelo & Dabere Egbo, Enugu
The Enugu State All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, governorship flag-bearer, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr, has condemned the alleged irregularities which he said characterized and marred the March 18 Enugu State governorship election.
In a press conference held at the party’s office, Friday, March 24, 2023, the former Information Minister decried the level of “violence, thuggery, intimidation, use of divisive sentiments, and the weaponization of poverty”, which he alleged were deployed by both the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Labour Party, LP.
Stressing that he had promised during his campaigns, to congratulate any candidate that emerged in a fair and transparent manner, Nweke said the election was far from fair and certainly, not transparent.
The statement reads in part:
“The elections have come and gone, and with it a multitude of infringements on our democratic process, an assault on our desires and our hope for our great state. I celebrate everyone who came out to participate in the democratic process in spite of the challenges, threats and intimidation reported across the State. Your determination is a sign of the awakening that has taken place; and I encourage you to keep your hope alive. Do not despair and do not be discouraged by the unfortunate challenges that have beset our current democratic experience.
“I often said during my campaign that I would offer my congratulations and best wishes to whoever emerged in a fair and transparent manner. This election was far from fair and certainly, not transparent.
“The violence, thuggery, intimidation, use of divisive sentiments, and the weaponization of poverty against our people, which the Peoples Democratic Party deployed in the course of the campaign and the elections reflect the desperation of the Party to hold on to power against the will of the people. It was never about service or the good of ndi Enugu; and the impunity with which these wicked acts were carried out is sickening.
“Just before midnight on Friday, March 17, 2023, another piece of propaganda was released and distributed aggressively to insinuate that I had stepped down for Peter Mbah, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. This recurrent lie may be referred to as a “political strategy” but we must call a lie what it is – the absence of integrity, a quality most desired in our government today. We would also discover in the course of the day that agents and canvassers at polling units told voters the same story that I had stepped down on the morning of the election.
“The House of Assembly candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance for Udenu Constituency was attacked and almost killed on the morning of the election, while five polling units within his jurisdiction were cordoned off by police and military officers.
“In Nsukka, voters recorded and reported gunshots at polling units allegedly instigated by the Labour Party.
“The most vulnerable and impoverished became prey to vote buying by the People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party with as little as N500 or packets of noodles in some places. At Udenu, both parties competed for the votes of our people with N2,000, a plate of Jollof rice, Okpa, and a bottle of soda. I feel ashamed that this is what our people are worth to some who seek to lead them. I am even more embarrassed by the so-called enlightened citizens who have lost sight of the implications of these actions.
“The PDP also secured the assistance of the INEC agents to rig the election, offering cash or issuing threats as the situation demanded.
“Only a few polling unit agents uploaded their results directly on IREV as provided by INEC, and fake result sheets were used to rewrite and manipulate the results of vote counts at the polling units before the falsified results of the elections were uploaded to the IREV. Some of these result sheets are also completely blurred on the portal.
“The collation centres at the local government headquarters were completely hijacked by thugs and compromised security operatives, and party agents other than the agents of the PDP were not allowed access to any stage of the collation process until Sunday morning. At 7:20 pm on election day, shots were fired sporadically at the Nkanu West collation centre in Agbani, while the military stood aside and watched. Similar breaches of the law and subversion of the electoral process occurred across many locations in the State.
“At the start of this campaign, I said emphatically that no ambition is worth the life of any individual. My sentiments about this have not changed. It is unfortunate that those who seek to govern our state are comfortable with expending the lives of citizens as political collateral damage.
“The elections of March 18, 2023 in Enugu State were a complete sham. They were not fair. They were not free. And they were not credible.
“Yet, none of these actions came as a surprise. Weeks before the election, and consistently, we shared detailed intelligence reports of the impending disaster with the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies. We consistently received assurances and chose to believe that our democracy would be protected in the face of the desperate plans for subterfuge.
“It is unfortunate that resolute actions were not taken to avert the threats we reported. Again, we saw that the problem is not democracy itself. The problem is the people and institutions that we rely upon to manage our democracy.
“The entire process, down to the declaration of its winner is a complete farce and will lack legitimacy for as long as it stands.
“The results of Nkanu East local government area which were contested, got reviewed and revised by the national office of INEC without any basis given for the change in numbers. If it was a case of over-voting, the expectation is that the result from the local government area should have been cancelled.
“It does seem that the numbers were simply manufactured to fit a preprogrammed outcome and read out to the public, as can be inferred from the Returning Officer of INEC in the state, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe’s comments about acting under authority and reading out what he had been given.
“I am utterly disappointed with the manner in which the Independent National Electoral Commission handled the 2023 elections. I am also saddened by the actions of some members of our security agencies. Both of these institutions of State let the people down when they became compromised by a few desperate power mongers and looters. The unchecked intimidation and violence, the massive rewriting of results and the overall abuse of the people’s will would have failed if not done in connivance with the electoral umpire and members of our security agencies.
“I have no problem losing an election to the will of the people. But when this will has been subverted, we have no choice but to review the entire process and the outcome.
“We will explore and exhaust every action required to ensure the legitimacy of the next government in Enugu State. You cannot hold accountable something that was acquired by illegitimate means.”
Asked why his party agent signed the result at the state collation centre if he (Frank Nweke Jr) didn’t accept the outcome of the election, he noted that the agent acted on reasons best known to him (the agent).
“Well, whoever signed the results, his reasons are best known to him, but the elections for the reasons I have described, was a complete farce, a complete sham”.
Asked if would challenge the outcome in court, he responded: “With the level of disenfranchisement, insecurity, conflict situation, voting buying that was recorded, I will exhaust every opportunity to hold INEC and other accomplices accountable for the conduct of this election.”
On whether he would remain in APGA and build the party or dump the party since he didn’t realize his mandate, he said: “I hold the mandate of the party. I am the flag bearer of APGA here in Enugu. It’s a mandate I respect and honour and we would pursue every opportunity available for us to obtain results.”
Recall that Frank Nweke Jr emerged in the third place with the total valid votes of 17,983 in the keenly contested election.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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