In a dramatic turn of events on Monday, supporters of the Labour Party (LP) converged on the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Owerri, the capital of Imo State. The protest stemmed from the alleged denial of access to crucial election materials used in the November 11 governorship poll.
Senator Athan Achonu, the LP candidate in the contested election, claimed that INEC had obstinately refused to provide certified true copies of the election materials, prompting the party’s supporters to take to the streets.
LP State Chairman, Callistus Ihejiagwa, addressing journalists during the protest, expressed deep frustration at what he characterized as the Commission’s obstructive stance. He highlighted that despite an official request made nine days prior, INEC had persistently denied their legal team access to the required documents.
Ihejiagwa, who addressed the media from a wheelchair, recounted an incident nine days ago when he was allegedly beaten and forcibly ejected from a hall during the collation of election results. He questioned the delay in releasing the certified true copies, emphasizing that INEC had swiftly announced results within 12 hours of the election.
He also mentioned the emotional toll on his family, emphasizing that his wife and children were still traumatized by witnessing his mistreatment on live television during the election results collation.
In response to the protesters, Ben-Opara Emmanuella, Head of the Department of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC in Imo State, assured them that the LP’s application had been received and was being attended to. She acknowledged the party’s right to request certified true copies and explained that the materials were currently being assembled, with the cost of payment to be communicated the following day.