The Southeastern Zone of the Network Evangelical Bishops of Nigeria (NEBN) has rejected the result of the Enugu State governorship election held on March 18, calling it an unacceptable assault on the people.
In a statement Sunday morning after a two-day meeting in Umuahia, Abia State, signed by Bishop Samuel Ani, the NEBN president, and Bishop Emeka Nwafor, the publicity secretary, the bishops said that the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, a lawyer, journalist and former member of the House of Representatives, “won the election fair and square”.
The bishops stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja was clever by half by thinking that the public would consider it evenhanded if it “awarded Abia to the Labour Party and Enugu to the PDP when it looked into grave reports by different parties that the ruling PDP in Abia and Enugu states had inflated votes in some LGAs on an industrial scale”.
INEC’s declaration that Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election, said the bishops, “is nothing other than a coup d’etat against the people who trooped to the polls to vote for change, after 24 years of being under PDP’s imperial rule.
“This is why the whole state has been like a graveyard, in contrast to neighbouring Abia State where the rightful winner, Dr Alex Otti of the Labour Party, was declared victorious, a development which saw hundreds of thousands of people in towns, cities and villages of the state wildly celebrating the dawn of a new era”.
The religious leaders observed that the PDP could not have possibly scored the controversial 16,000 votes in Nkanu East Local Government Area announced by the electoral commission when only 6,179 voters were accredited.
“We are convinced that the 16,000 votes were conjured up so that the compromised INEC would pronounce the PDP candidate the winner”.
They argued that even in the presidential election which generated voter enthusiasm throughout the country, there were not up to 9,000 persons who voted in Nkanu East LGA.
The bishops remarked that the LP’S success in the gubernatorial election is consistent with the pattern of voting in the 2023 general election in the state which saw the LP win seven out of the eight House of Representatives seats, two of the three Senate seats, 14 of the 24 House of Assembly seats and 87.7 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential election.
They concluded: “The Enugu governorship election petition should be one of the easiest that the Election Petitions Tribunal will deal with because it is a straight case of outright falsification and fraud”.