…says election assault on democracy
All Progressives Grand Alliance governorship candidate in last Saturday’s election in Enugu State, Frank Nweke Jr, has rejected the declaration of the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Peter Mbah as the winner and governor-elect.
Nweke, a former Minister of Information who spoke during press conference in Enugu on Friday, described the governorship and House of Assembly elections as an assault on democracy, insisting that the elections were not free, fair and credible and therefore the outcome was not acceptable as the will and wishes of Enugu State people.
While thanking the electorate for investing their hope and trust in his candidacy, Nweke noted that it was a boost and inspiration for him and his team.
“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”, he said
He noted with dismay that just before midnight on Friday, March 17, 2023, a piece of propaganda was released and distributed aggressively against him, insinuating that he had stepped down for Peter Mbah, his Peoples Democratic Party rival.
He said the recurrent lie might be referred to as a “political strategy” but emphasised that a lie must be called a lie- the absence of integrity, a quality most desired in our government today.
Nweke recalled that on the day of the elections agents and canvassers at polling units told voters the same story that he had stepped down on the morning of the election.
He also alleged that on the same morning of the election, town criers were deployed in several communities in the state, ordering anyone who would not vote in favour of the People’s Democratic Party to stay home.
“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.
“At various polling units across the State, PDP thugs, party members, hired criminals and some compromised members of the police and military threatened voters at polling units and chased those who could not be bought over or intimidated into voting for the PDP. In Nsukka, voters recorded and reported gunshots at polling units allegedly instigated by the Labour Party”, Nweke alleged.
The former minister claimed that the PDP in desperate efforts to rig the elections, secured the assistance of the INEC agents to rig the election, offering cash or issuing threats as the situation demanded.
He said 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.
According to Nweke, “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 IREV. Some of these result sheets were also completely blurred on the portal”.
He further alleged that 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.
Nweke also claimed that similar breaches of the law and subversion of the electoral process occurred across many locations in the state.