I was held hostage by Okorocha for days, he forced me to announce him winner-INEC Returning officer reveals

The announcement of Governor Rochas Okorocha as the winner of Imo West Senatorial District election is currently embroiled in controversy, as the returning officer for the district, Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi, has alleged that he was made to announce him under duress.

According to the returning officer, who stated this while announcing the result, he was detained at the collation centre for days.

Before reeling out figures at the district collation centre in the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Office in Orlu, Ibeabuchi said he was being held “under duress” to announce the results.

“My name is Ibeabuchi Izuchukwu Innocent, a professor at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), the returning officer for Imo West (Orlu) senatorial zone.

“My area commander; my P.Os; the party agents here present; members of the press; ladies and gentlemen.

“I have been held hostage here for days so I’m trying to ease off and take my life home back to my children and for the sake of that I am calling these results under duress,” the returning officer said.

The returning officer however stopped after announcing nine out of 12 local government areas that made up the zone at about 9:45 p.m Sunday, insisting that he received an urgent call from the state’s Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Francis Ezeonu, to return to Owerri and continue the process Monday morning.

He was, however, stopped from leaving the centre by supporters of Governor Okorocha, who insisted he must announce the result of the remaining three local governments.

Ibeabuchi, however, yielded to pressure on Monday morning when he announced Okorocha as the winner.

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