Steve Uzoechi, Owerri
The Imo North Senatorial by-election ended on Saturday without a Senator emerging for the district.
Announcing the outcome of the election at the state Secretariat of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Owerri, the Returning Officer for the election, Hakeem Adikum, declared the All Progressives Congress (APC), the winner of the Imo North by-election without returning any candidate.
After announcing the figures scored by the various political parties and their candidates, Adikum said: “I hereby return the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the by-election held in Imo North on Saturday, December 5.”
It became apparent that the election was a close race between APC and PDP when the Returning Officer announced that the APC scored 36,811 votes, while Emmanuel Okewulonu of the Peoples Democratic Party came second with 31,903 votes.
“APC won in five out of the six Local Government Areas in the senatorial district while PDP won in one LGA,” the Returning Officer observed.
While PDP won in Obowo LGA where its candidate hails from, the Returning Officer said that APC won in Okigwe, Onuimo, Isiala Mbano, Ehime Mbano and Ihitte/ Uboma LGAs.
But the Imo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Francis Ezeonu, told journalists that the electoral umpire was unable to return any candidate from APC as winner of the election because of “several court orders for and against Araraume and Ibezim of the APC” both of who are still locked in a legal battle over who is the bona-fide candidate of the APC for the election.
An Abuja Federal High court had on Friday barred Ibezim for life from contesting elections, asking INEC to reject his nomination over alleged perjury occasioned by questionable credentials submitted to INEC under oath, however, the Appeal Court sitting in Owerri also nullified Araraume’s candidacy as the APC flag bearer for the election.
Both cases are already headed for the Appellate Court.