Joe Effiong, Uyo
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State has asked the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister for Justice to relocate the election petition tribunal from Akwa Ibom State to Abuja.
This is the second time the APC would be making such a demand; it also made similar request in 2015, forcing the tribunal to be relocated to Abuja from Uyo.
The Akwa Ibom Chairman of APC, Mr Ini Okopido, in the letter dated March 21, 2019, alleged that the electoral fraud by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Mike Igini, in collusion with the Akwa Ibom State government and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to destroy electoral materials needed to substantiate the petition of the APC as the reason for the demand.
According to him; “We observe with deep regrets that since Mr. Mike Igini superintended over the worst general elections ever conducted in Akwa Ibom State, that was fraught with manifest irregularities and wide-spread electoral infractions, the REC is now unveiling a grand scheme to thwart and create a chaotic environment to pave way for the pervasion of justice.
“We have been reliably informed that the REC is now intimidating electoral officers who participated in the just concluded general elections in the state, particularly, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers (SPOs), presiding officers (POs) and assistant presiding officers (APOs), handing over their phone numbers to hired assassins and PDP killer squad to forcefully coerce them to concoct and fabricate false reports of violence, ballot paper snatching, all in a bid to justify the clandestine activities of Mr. Mike Igini days after the purported declaration of results, seeing that unit results will expressly show that candidates of the All Progressives Congress clearly won the elections by the votes directly delivered at the polling units across the state.
“This latest action by the leadership of INEC in Akwa Ibom State has vindicated our stand expressed in various fora before the general elections that Mr. Mike Igini is a biased umpire, heavily compromised by the Akwa Ibom State government to truncate the smooth conduct of free and fair elections.
“We, therefore, reiterate in unambiguous terms, that INEC under Mr. Mike Igini cannot guarantee credibility and the ethos of fair play as demonstrated with this plot hatched to frustrate the electoral process,” he said.
The party said the immediate relocation of the elections tribunal to Abuja would forestall a breakdown of law and order and reiterated the call for the immediate redeployment of Mr. Mike Igini to pave way for a level playing field for all parties that partook of the elections.
The party also called on security agencies to provide adequate security to all ad-hoc staffs of INEC in the state and properly investigate and bring to book, thugs allegedly paid by the PDP to intimidate or coerce non-yielding election officials.
When contacted for their reactions, the PDP and the Mr Igini declined to speak on the matter. Ini Ememobong the state Publicity Secretary of PDP said; “We don’t want to join issues with them on that.”
Similarly, the state REC, Mr Mike Igini, said the relocation of the tribunal was the decision of the tribunal to make based on whether the reasons canvassed were germane.
“So I won’t speak any further on that.” he said.