All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for Anambra Central, Prof. Dora Akunyili, has urged eligible voters in areas where the rerun election will take place on Tuesday (April 26) to turn out en masse to exercise their franchise.
“I appeal to them not to be discouraged or demoralised by the unfortunate events of the past two weeks but to turn out in large numbers on Tuesday to perform their civic duty,” Akunyili said in a statement issued by her Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Isaac Umunna.
The rerun election will take place mainly in Njikoka Local Government Area, specifically in Enugwu-Ukwu, where the result was canceled due to discrepancies, as well as in Nimo wards 1 and 3, where no results were received after the April 9 senatorial elections.
Controversy engulfed the result when Dr. Alex Anene, the Returning Officer for the senatorial zone, rejected the result submitted by Prof. E.L.C. Nnabuife, the Collation Officer for Njikoka Local Government, alleging that it had been doctored to favour Akunyili – an allegation which Nnabuife vehemently denied. Anene later claimed to have come under pressure from APGA and the Anambra State Government to announce Akunyili as winner. Though the claim was promptly denied, he went underground and was replaced by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Chukwuemeka Onukogu.
However, several hours after the new Returning Officer, Prof. Charles Esimone, at a press conference on April 11 ordered a rerun in some wards and polling units despite announcing Akunyili as leading in the concluded votes, Anene addressed another press conference at a hotel, during which he declared Dr. Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria winner of the election with 44 votes.
The crisis persisted until last Thursday night when Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, after studying the report of the panel he set up to investigate the issue, upheld the decision of the Anambra REC and the new Returning Officer.
“I am happy that justice has been done and I look forward to victory on Tuesday. There is no way Ngige can beat me in a free and fair election in Anambra State,” Akunyili said.
The former Information and Communications Minister challenged Ngige to submit himself for the rerun “if indeed he is popular as he claims,” instead of threatening to boycott the rerun election.