Mass protests swept across major cities in Anambra State including Awka, Onitsha, Dunukofia, Awkuzu and parts of Ihiala and Nnewi today as the people of the state expressed their anger over the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare the APGA gubernatorial candidate, Chief Willie Obiano as the governor-elect of Anambra State.
The protesters who poured out into the streets in their thousands chanted angry songs to indicate their disapproval and made protest signs as they danced in the streets drawing more crowds that caused serious traffic snarls in the cities. Shaking with anger, the protesters stated their disenchantment with INEC in a gargle of voices.
?We are giving INEC 24 hours to declare Chief Willie Obiano the winner!? thundered Ifeanyi Muofunanya, Chairman, Awkuzu Youths Association at the popular Awkuzu Junction. ?Anambra has been a peaceful state. The election that took place?on Saturday?was unanimously declared as peaceful, free and fair by every observer. Why did INEC declare the results inconclusive? The youths of Anambra State are running out of patience. If INEC does not declare Willie Obiano the winner in the next 24 hours, we cannot guarantee what will happen in Anambra state,? Muofunanya vowed.
The youth leader wondered why INEC would wilfully play into the hands of a vicious opposition that had made no pretences about frustrating the wishes of the people to have their favourite candidate run the affairs of the state, saying ?Is INEC na?ve or what? Were these not the same forces that circulated a wicked rumour last Friday morning alleging that Chief Obiano had been disqualified from the race? Were they not the same people who instigated a stampede at the Uke Adoration Ground that took 26 lives? Why should INEC continue to indulge them by declaring a very peaceful election inconclusive??
Speaking in the same vein, Chief Emmanuel Okafor, patron, Awka Amalgamated Traders Association called on INEC to review its pronouncement on the results and declare Obiano the winner. ?We are surprised at the position INEC has taken on this matter. It is very clear that INEC is succumbing to pressure from determined losers. In any contest, there must be winners and losers. Willie Obiano is the winner of this election. INEC should declare him the winner and save us all this trouble going on in the state,? he pleaded.
For Madam Uchemdi Efobi, the women leader of the Eke Awka market, the regulatory body has no choice than to declare the APGA candidate the winner. Said she; ?Willie Obiano is a man after our hearts. He is our choice and the choice of the Anambra women. Why is INEC delaying the announcement of his victory? I must make this point clear ? without Willie Obiano there will be no government in Anambra State.?
Pointing at the locked stalls in the market, the women leader explained that the traders were too pained to open their shops. ?We are still in shock. The pronouncement from INEC has left a sour taste in our mouths. Unless something is done and quickly too, we may not be able to restrain our youths from taking the laws into their hands,? she warned.
The mass protests in Onitsha swept past the busy streets in the city and terminated at Fegge where the youth leader, Mr. Ikeya Obiora declared Chief Willie Obiano the winner of the Anambra guber election and issued an ultimatum to INEC to give him a certificate of return in 24 hours or face a serious uprising in the state.
According to him, it is surprising that INEC has doubts about APGA victory at the polls. ?Please, the question I want to ask INEC is; who did they expect to win this election? Did anybody expect that after deporting our brothers and sisters from Lagos, APC would come to Anambra State to win an election? Somebody should please tell these people that Igbos are no fools! If Obiano is not declared the winner in 24 hours, Anambra State might not be the same again,? Mr. Obiora vowed.
The protest in Umunnachi and Umudioka was not different as the youths trooped to the streets and sealed off the old Onitsha ? Enugu Road chanting songs of solidarity for the APGA candidate and brandishing placards with diverse inscriptions asking INEC to declare Obiano the winner.
Addressing the crowd at Umunnachi, the youth leader, Mr Emeka Odionu wondered how many times INEC would bend the rules in favour of APC and Senator Ngige. ?First, they said it was only Idemili that voting did not take place. Now they are also asking for more territories. I am sure that their next demand will be to cancel the entire election and declare Ngige the winner,? he observed, shaking his head in regret.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come under intense pressure over last weekend?s gubernatorial election in Anambra State which was widely upheld as peaceful, hitch-free and fair.
However, the regulatory body?s refusal to declare Chief Willie Obiano the winner in the keenly contested race has opened a veritable window of protests and bitter agitations in the once peaceful state by the Niger.