Imo: INEC has refused to allow us inspect BVAS, LP cries out

Candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Imo governorship election, Athan Achonu, has raised the alarm over the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow him to inspect the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) used in the election, to tender as evidence in court.

Achonu during a press briefing, yesterday, in Abuja, said he had obtained an order from the tribunal to be allowed to inspect the devices, but INEC refused to grant the permission.

The former senator, who said he won the Imo election by a wide margin, claimed that INEC was restricting him from accessing the BVAS in order to prevent him from proving his victory in court.

He, therefore, called on President Bola Tinubu to call the commission to order, so as to avoid further escalation of the matter and to ensure justice is served.

Achonu said: “INEC is supposed to be the umpire; they are supposed to give us a free and fair election, which never happened.

“What is happening right now as we speak is that we went to the tribunal and got an order for us to be allowed to inspect the BVAS.

“But INEC has refused to allow us to inspect the BVAS up to this moment. We hired lawyers at a very high cost. They are there, but INEC has refused to allow us to inspect the BVAS, despite the court order.

“They are simply delaying so that we will not be able to get facts to go to court to prove our victory. We won the election by a landslide.

“Observers were crying, including some security agents. They couldn’t believe the rape of democracy that took place in Imo and INEC does not want us to prove it. Right from the onset, we made it clear to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, that there were certain things he must put in place for us to have a free and fair election.

“One of them is the removal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC). Secondly, that we must have collation at ward level and local government level before the state level and also, we insisted the result sheets must be signed by three officers, the national commissioner, the REC and then, each election official would sign that of his local government, so that there would be no manipulation of the result sheets. And they all agreed to these things at a stakeholders’ meeting. But, surprisingly, on the election day, there was no collation at the ward level. Even at some local governments, there was no collation. They moved everything to the state.

“And then in those areas that we had insecurity, where the election did not hold, results were collated.

There was cluster voting in Osu and even the attorney general of the state, on television, confirmed he moved 80 people in buses from Owerri to Osu during an election where they said there would be no vehicular movement.

“Also, it is unimaginable that Bayelsa State with eight local government areas took three days to collate, while Imo State with 27, was done within two hours, in spite of the insistence of the Labour Party chairman that there were irregularities which should be looked into before collation.

Achonu, however, noted that while many believed the country had completely collapsed, he still hoped there were still men of integrity within the judiciary, who could make a difference.

“What gave me confidence is that Tinubu was on the streets for the June 12. He made us believe he was a democrat, fighting for justice, freedom and equal opportunities.

“I understand he is in the same party as Hope Uzodimma. But this country shouldn’t be about party. It should be about the quality of persons.

“I was in the Senate with the wife of the president, Remi Tinubu. I know the quality of person that she is. So, how could they allow such a thing to happen under their watch?

“I am calling on President Tinubu, our president, to look into what is going on. This cannot be happening under his watch.”

Achonu warned that what is happening in Nigeria, especially in states like Imo, would discourage investors from coming into the country.

“He has gone around the whole world now soliciting for investment. How can any sane person, come and invest in a place like this where you have Imo State with killings everyday,” he said.

He also called on the INEC Chairman, Yakubu, to make it public to Nigerians if he is no longer in control of the commission, saying: “Look at the INEC Chairman, Mahmood, God has blessed him to have held so many important positions of responsibility in this country, but, under him, INEC has collapsed. Does it mean he is no longer in charge? Or that he will give an order and it would not be carried out and nothing happens? If he is no longer in charge, he should come out and tell Nigerians, instead of pretending to be the INEC chairman, while things keep going wrong.”

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