The Labour Party’s Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South zone, Mr Linus Okorie, has accused the Independent National electoral commission, INEC of stealing his mandate and handing it to the going Governor of the state, David Umahi.
He stated this while speaking with newsmen in Abakaliki on Thursday. Okorie noted that he won the Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo, Ohanivo, Federal constituency in the February 25th, 2023 House of Representatives election.
The senatorial candidate emphasized that he (Umahi) lost the most recent primary election held by INEC ahead of the Ebonyi South Senatorial election stressing that Umahi was not fit to run for the Senate.
He said: “I like to say that I’m the presumed winner of the Ebonyi south senatorial zone election, conducted on 25th February 2023, irrespective of the fact that the Independent National electoral commission, INEC, announced APC candidate, David Umahi as a winner.
“I still don’t accept to the extent that I’m in Election Petition Tribunal to retrieve that mandate. I consider that mandate as a stolen mandate and I’m very dedicated to retrieving it in Court.
“An election was held on 25th of February, 2023, where Governor David Umahi is a candidate for APC and I was a candidate for Labour Party, LP, and there were other candidates. His supporters including the Local Government Chairman of Onicha LGA made thugs to be known as APC members and supporters to destroy votes in polling Units within my community and my wards, and that’s the areas of my strength; where ordinarily, I’m expected to harvest the maximum number of votes, just like Umahi did in Umunaga ward, and other wards in Uburu community.
“They shot people, they burnt BVAS, they burnt ballot papers, they destroyed results in many of my ten (10) polling Units. When you put all these places including the one that happened in Isu community in Ugbogologo ward, we have over ten thousand (10,000) votes that were destroyed.
“If you go to Ivo LGA, in Ngwugwu ward, in the ward collations and after tabulating the results by whatever they have done, Labour Party, LP, which is my Party scored 551votes, while APC scored 290 votes, but instead of entering 551votea that my Party scored, they decided to enter 290 votes to be same with that of APC that scored 290 votes. Taking away 261 votes is stealing votes. The BVAS is there to confirm it.
“In all of these irregularities that happened, the total results announced by INEC said he (Umahi) won me by the margin of 2882 votes. Meanwhile, we have over ten thousand votes mostly in my areas of strength, my stronghold that was destroyed by APC members.
“The law says that where the margin of lead between the 1st candidate and the 2nd candidate, is not more than the total number of the places where election didn’t hold or cancelled, that you shall not return a winner, in other words, 2882 votes compared to ten thousand (10,000) votes, nobody should be declared the winner but should be declared inconclusive.
“I did a petition when I found out that they (INEC) to declare him (Umahi), I quoted section 24(3) of the electoral acts, which prohibits the Returning Officer from announcing the result but because of the pressure mounted on him (Returning Officer), he declared that results. Is that not stealing?”
“That INEC stole my election and that Governor David Umahi of APC, are the recipient of stolen property. And so, INEC stole my election, then Governor David Umahi received the stolen mandate. That’s my stolen mandate. He (Umahi) is holding unto a stolen mandate” he stated.
Meanwhile, in a swift response, Governor David Umahi has threatened to drag the LP Candidate to court to prove on how he (Umahi) stole his mandate. He started this in a press conference in his office, at the Centenary City, Abakaliki.
Umahi said, “I listened to Linus Okorie, and I want to use this opportunity to warn him, if he continues to say that he has a stolen mandate. I will take him to court to prove that his mandate was stolen because he has a criminal insinuation. He (Okorie) must prove who stole his mandate. And he is relatively influencing the outcome of the Tribunal by saying that, and I must stop him (Okorie) from saying it.”