By Wilson Adekumola
The senatorial candidate of the Labour Party for Ebonyi South zone, Mr. Linus Okorie, has explaned how the outgoing Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi stole his mandate.
He stressed that he was the presumed winner of the Ebonyi south senatorial seat in the election held on February 25, 2023, alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission stole his mandate gave it to David Umahi.
Okorie, who was a two-time member of the House of Representatives, and represented Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo federal constituency, made this claims while speaking with journalists in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State.
He alleged that Umahi was not qualified to contest for Senate and that he didn’t win primaries.
Okorie said, “I like to say that I’m the presumed winner of the Ebonyi south senatorial zone, 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 with the provings of the 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 that are known 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 Umunnaga ward and other wards in Uburu community.
“They shot people; they burnt BVAS, they burnt billot papers, they destroyed results in many of my ten (10) polling Units. When you put all these places, including the one that happened in the 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 of votes. The BVAS are 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 lead, which is 2882 votes. Meanwhile, we have over ten votes, mostly in my areas of strength, my stronghold that were 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) wants to declare him (Umahi), i quoted section 24(3) of the electoral acts, which prohibits the Returning Officer from announcing that results but because of the pressure mounted on him (returning Officer) he declared that results, is that not stealing?” He questioned.
“That INEC stole my election and that governor David Umahi of APC, are the recipient of a 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.
Reacting, the outgoing governor, David Umahi, however, in press briefing that took place at his office located at the Centenary City, Abakaliki, had threatened to sue Mr Linus Okorie to court to expatiate on his stolen mandate.
“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 on 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,” he stated.