The Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has accused the Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission at the just-concluded March 18 governorship election in the state, Prof. Nnenna Oti, of being “unfair” to parties that participated in the poll. In an interview with Channels TV on Monday night, Ikpeazu alleged that Oti was “visibly happy” that she “favoured” a party. Ikpeazu added that before the poll, he carried out some background checks on the returning officer and complained to INEC that she wouldn’t be fair in the electoral process because of the coincidence in her name and a contender in the poll but got assurances from the electoral umpire. On March 22, Oti, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, declared Labour Party’s Alex Otti the winner of the March 18 governorship election in Abia. The declaration followed the resumption of the final collation of governorship election results in Umuahia, the state capital over 48 hours after INEC suspended the exercise in the state. On March 28, Oti while being received by her staff and students, said she was threatened and pressured during the poll but she stood her ground. She made the revelation while being welcomed by the management, staff and students of the university. “As an electoral officer, I have never in my life participated in any election, but duty came calling, I made my inquiries from Abuja,” Oti said. “If I perish, I perish, they came with their threats, they came with their money, they came with their intimidation. ”Reacting to Oti’s comment, Ikpeazu described it as very unfortunate as she lacked the power to manipulate results.“ This is very unfortunate. I have not met that professor and I am shocked. In the first place, if she is a professor, she can’t even manipulate results because these are results that emanated from the units, collated at the wards, collated at the local governments and brought for her to just add them up and announce. I’ve not met her before; I’ve not spoken to her. If I have met her, if I have spoken to her, let her come to the public and declare so. So, I am shocked that she is making a big noise out of nothing,” the governor said. Ikpeazu also said he knew the returning officer would be “unfair” due to the coincidence in her name and that of the LP candidate. “At some point when I saw the coincidence in name and traced a little bit of her background, I complained to INEC that this lady was not going to be fair but they assured me that they had profiled her. I am still shocked. What she has portrayed in the aftermath of her service or stewardship in Abia indicates the fact that she is visibly happy with what she did. Her level of bias in that regard could be placed in favour of a party. She has portrayed that she had something at the back of her mind before she came,” Ikpeazu added.

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