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Polls: Rochas Okorocha Reacts As Returning Officer Alleges He Declared Him Winner Under Duress

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The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has reacted to the allegation that he forced the Returning Officer of Imo West senatorial election, Prof. Innocent Ibeawuchi, to declare him the winner of the Saturday’s election.

Ibeawuchi, in an audio clip, maintained that Okorocha’s men forced him to declare him the winner.

Okorocha defeated his closest rival, Jones Onyereri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who polled 68,117 with 97,762 votes.

Ibeawuchi, briefing newsmen after announcing the results on Monday, alleged that he was held hostage from 7pm on Sunday till 11am on Monday and compelled to announce the result, which was inconclusive.

He said: “I have been held hostage here for days, so I’m trying to ease up up and take my life back to my children. For the sake of that, I’m calling this result under duress.”

Reacting, Okorocha, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, debunked the allegation, describing Ibeawuchi as “a bloody liar who may be acting a script.”

The statement read: “I ask the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), here, to quickly correct these anomalies.

“The returning officer is a bloody liar, who may be acting a script. I enjoin him to return the money he may have collected from those who understand only rigging in election.

“They should examine the returning officer to know his mental state. If he is not mental, then, he must be a criminal to have ever thought of that.

“How could someone ask you to change the result of an election he has already won? My score is above 90,000, and the nearest to me is slightly above half of it, when you combine both Jones and Izunaso’s votes.

“They can’t match or contest against me in Imo State, not to talk of Orlu zone. Am I even supposed to contest for Senate in Orlu; I never campaigned, but only declared and campaigned for three days.

“Having won in nine out of the 12 local government areas announced, we heard that they were trying to move the result sheets to Owerri but when we demanded an explanation, the man (Ibeawuchi) said he was tired and didn’t feel safe, when nobody was threatening him.

“At the end, we discovered that he didn’t have the declaration sheet. I wonder where this is taking us. I hope INEC would change this system because we will resist them if they try it in the next election.”

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