Abia North rerun: VC shuts up returning officer

•Prof admits being forced to declare PDP winner

The move to suppress the truth about the Abia North senatorial district rerun election continued yesterday when authorities of the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, ordered the returning officer, Prof Nwankwo Ojike, a lecturer in the university, not to make further comments on the outcome of the poll without getting clearance.

Abia North senatorial rerun election ended in controversy when the returning officer first declared it inconclusive only to later pronounce the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Mao Ohuabanwa, winner.

The declared result showed that Ohuabunwa polled 26, 009, while the candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu garnered 25, 814 votes.

According to inside sources at the university, Vice Chancellor, Prof Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta summoned Ojike before the management to explain what happened during the election as, according to him, the election was causing the  university embarrassment.

It was gathered that Ojike told the meeting that he declared the election inconclusive because results from Arochukwu Wards 2 and 3 as well as Ndi Elu Mkporo were cancelled owing to irregularities but he was surprised that the results were eventually added to shore up PDP votes.

The returning officer also told the meeting that after declaring the election inconclusive, he was put under pressure and forced to declare Ohuabunwa winner a few hours later, in the absence of PPA and other parties’ agents.

After Ojike’s submission, sources revealed the vice chancellor ordered him not to make comments on the Abia North rerun except he gets clearance from university authorities during which he would be given a lawyer.

Meanwhile, sources have revealed how a top officer in the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike was in contact with returning and electoral officers in Arochukwu on how to ensure that the PDP was returned winner.

Sources revealed that the officer called the INEC Adhoc staff who are from the university, severally in the early hours of March 6 and instructed them what to do to favour the PDP.

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