By Uche Amunike
The Enugu State governorship election result has finally been announced, declaring candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Mbah, winner.
This announcement was made by the Returning Officer for the March 18 election, Maduebibisi Iwe, at the Enugu State Collation Center of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Wednesday night at exactly 10.47pm.
According to him, Peter Mbah polled 160,895 votes, defeating his closest rival, Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party who garnered 157,552 votes. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Frank Nweke polled 17,983 votes, coming third place, while Uche Nnaji of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took fourth position with 14,575 votes.
The returning officer who announced the Enugu governorship election result is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Umudike. He made the declaration upon completing the collation of results from two local government areas in the state which faced suspension by the electoral umpire as a result of alleged irregularities.
The two local government areas which were affected are Nkanu East and Nsukka and according to INEC, the reason why they enforced the suspension was to make it possible for them to carry out a review of the disputed results from the council areas.
On Wednesday, however, the electoral body announced that the review had been finalized and collation would continue at the centre.
According to the Returning Officer, Professor Iwe, INEC overruled the petition against the Nsukka Local Government Area during the results review, but however sustained that of Nkanu East Council Area.
They also consequently reduced the result from 30,350 votes which was earlier given to the PDP candidate to 16,956 votes after reviewing the results. The candidate of Labour Party, according to him, also had an initial score of 1855 which was increased to 1864 votes.
He also reacted to earlier allegations made by Labour Party agent, Eugene Edeoga, that the BVAS machines were not used during the voting process in the council area, stating that the machine was used. He however admitted that the commission made discoveries about some infractions during the election in the council area.
Edeoga has however opposed the decision of INEC, stating that the election should have been cancelled in the Nkanu East Council Area, in line with the provisions made by the 2022 Electoral Law because of the ‘infraction’ witnessed during the election.
In reaction, the Returning Officer stated that it was a decision taken at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, based on the review of the materials that were used for the electoral process in the council area.
On his part, the PDP agent submitted that the earlier position of the Labour Party agent that there were cases of voting in the area, showed that the BVAS machines were used during the exercise and urged the returning officer to announce the Enugu governorship election result, so that people who were not satisfied with it could go to court to seek redress.
The result was finally announced, stating that the PDP candidate, Peter Mbah, won in Uzo-Uwani, Udi, Ezeagu, Aninri, Nkanu West, Enugu South, Awgu, Enugu East and Nkanu East, where he hails from.
The LP candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, on his part, won in Igbo-Eze North, Oji River, Igbo-Etiti, Igbo-Eze South, Nsukka, Udenu, Enugu North and Isi-Uzo, where he hailsfrom.
The returning officer therefore declared: ‘That Mbah Peter Ndubuisi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having satisfied all the requirements of the law and scored the highest number of votes in the election, is hereby declared the winner of the election and is returned elected.’