In Nigeria, tension was high in the southeastern state of Imo as the people awaited the outcome of the disputed governorship election.
Armed soldiers were patrolling the streets and guarding government facilities as members of the opposition planned demonstrations to demand the release of the election results.
The incumbent governor, Ikedi Ohakim, a member of the ruling PDP, was running behind, with the candidate for the opposition All Progressives Grade Alliance [APGA] in the lead.
Then the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] stopped announcing the results, saying elections were not held in four out of 27 counties or local governments.
APGA’s gubernatorial candidate, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, said he had satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the election.
“I am the winner of this election because from the results available from the 25 local governments where elections were conducted, I am topping my opponent with about 18,000 votes. But my opponent is of the view that there should be a re-run from the two local governments where elections did not take place.”
INEC met Friday to decide whether to hold polls in the disputed areas, said commission spokesman Kayode Idowu. He said officials were aware of the importance of the Imo State results for the credibility of the electoral process.
“The commission should declare the results it has,” said Okorocha.
He said INEC should not throw away the international and local support it received from the conduct of the other elections in the country.
“So far, INEC has done well and can be given credit for its work, but right now, Imo remains a test case because there seems to be a lot of undue influence that is halting the results from being announced,” he said, “as evidenced by the returning officers who had intended to declare the results but then got a text message and decided to suspend the results being released.”
INEC’s Idowu denied the charge. He said the commission will do what is right based on the laws and fairness.
But Okorocha said his supporters are running out of patience with the commission and called for an immediate release of the election results.
“It takes my good effort to ask my supporters to please calm down because it makes no point destroying or killing people. As a law abiding citizen, I have decided and communicated to them that they should remain calm, but the [tension] remains very high,” he said.