Abia businessman gifts SUV to Abia INEC Returning Officer, Prof Oti

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For refusing to collude with forces bent on stealing the mandate of the people of Abia State in last Saturday’s governorship election, the Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Nnenna Oti has been rewarded with a Toyota Prado branded Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) car.

Steven Ukpabi and Prof Nnenna Oti

A tweet by a man identified as Chinedu Aroh (@chineduaroh4), Thursday evening, said a businessman in the state, identified as Steven Ukpabi, has rewarded Prof Nnenna Oti with the car.

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Prof Oti turned heroin in Abia after viral reports had claimed that she single-handedly secured the mandate of the people in the election which saw candidate of the opposition Labour Party, Dr Alex Otti, trounce and topple incumbent State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu’s former Chief of Staff and preferred candidate, Okechukwu Ambrose Ahiwe, of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by over 86,902 votes.

The protracted delay in collating and announcing the results also generated series of conspiracy theories, especially after top INEC officials were summoned to the commission’s Abuja head office to explain their position amid reports of an invasion of the local government office of the commission by thugs suspected to be from the ruling PDP.

The local government in question is also the home of the incumbent state governor, Ikpeazu.

INEC was compelled to issue a rebuttal, denying any plot to manipulate the Abia polls in favour of the PDP.

The commission also denied that its National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was working in collusion with the ruling PDP in the state to upturn the outcome of the poll, saying he ‘never called the Abia Returning Officer to give her a directive.’

INEC was responding to viral report which quoted the Abia State RO as claiming that the Chairman, Prof Yakubu ‘personally called her.’

Making the clarification, Tuesday, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the only communication sent to the Abia State Returning Officer (Prof Oti) was the commission’s advice on the decision to suspend collation of results.

“The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu never called the Returning Officer to give her a directive. Rather, the Returning Officer wanted the official communication on the Commission’s decision to suspend the collation of results in Abia State.

“The Chairman then directed that pending the delivery of the hard copies, the soft copies of the Commission’s letter be forwarded immediately to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Enugu State and the Administrative Secretary of Abia State.

“The Returning Officer for Abia State then directed that the contents of the letter be read aloud by the Administrative Secretary in the presence of agents of political parties, observers, the media and security personnel at the Collation Centre.

“This is what is now being mischievously interpreted as a directive to the Returning Officer on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines. There is nothing like that.

“In fact, the content of the letter is basically the same as the Commission’s Press Release dated Monday 20th March 2023 which has since been uploaded to the Commission’s social media platforms and is already in the public domain. The public should disregard the story as fake news.”

Earlier, the RO,  Prof Oti claimed Prof Yakubu called her ‘and  gave her directives on guidelines to follow in ensuring that Abia governorship election results were collated based on some criteria but that on her own she has decided that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.’

Eventually, on Wednesday evening, the Returning Officer for Abia State election, Prof. Nnenna Otti, resumed collation of the thrice suspended exercise at the Umuahia Central Collation Centre, as she announced Otti as winner after polling 175,431t defeat the PDP candidate who secured PDP – 88,529.

However, in the four days of tension and anxiety, Prof Oti was at the centre of the waiting game which eventually came to an end, Wednesday, with the declaration of Otti as governor-elect, toppling the 24-year reign of the PDP in the state.

“Abia Businessman, Steven Ukpabi, Gifts New Prado Jeep To INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Nnenna Oti, For Her Integrity And Refusal To Compromise Abia Governorship Results.

“Do good and see good in your life.@inecnigeria @ARISEtv @channelstv” the tweet said, Thursday.

It is, however, unclear whether the INEC official was present to receive the gift, as it is against the civil service regulations to accept gratifications.

Prof Oti is also barred from making use of the car according to civil service code of conduct.

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