Joe Effiong, Uyo and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Domestic election observers accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and deployed to Akwa Ibom State during the just concluded governorship and House of Assembly elections, have wondered why the state was regarded a flash point.
Addressing newsmen, in Uyo, yesterday, the domestic observers, led by the Chairman of National Coalition of INEC Accredited Domestic Observers, Chief Efemana Ututu, said the huge crowd of policemen and armed soldiers in the states, some days prior to the election, had created some level of fear and tension, such that the people felt intimidated, which resulted in poor turnout of voters in some areas.
They said despite that, the conduct of election in the state was generally peaceful, even as there was massive deployment of security agents.
Regardless, they said they did their jobs the way it ought to be, except in some areas they were suspected to be partisan.
“The votes cast were counted in the presence of observers, alongside other stakeholders, and we joined the party agents to endorse the result in some areas. “The result of the election was accepted by all parties concerned at every polling unit and collation centre, and at the end of the elections, there was peace in the state against doomsday prophesies,” they said.
The group, however, recommended that all stakeholders concerned with election be time-conscious and ensure all the sensitive and non-sensitive materials get to the designated polling units on time, while continuous improvement should be made on the card reader, so as to reduce time wastage.
“The card readers should be properly configured and calibrated to reduce time wastage. Security agents must adhere to the tenets of professionalism, and not close their eyes to malpractices. The undue deployment of armed military soldiers should be minimised in future elections.
“INEC must not relent in continuous improvement of the electoral process, so as to deepen democracy and embolden the voters’ confidence in the ballot.”
Consequently, they declared the election conducted by INEC in Akwa Ibom State was free, fair, credible and peaceful.
Meanwhile, INEC has fixed March 23 for the supplementary elections in the three affected state constituencies.
The March 9 elections in the three constituencies were declared inconclusive because of failure to adhere to the guidelines of the Electoral Act; hijack of ballot boxes and non use of the card reader.
Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Winfred Ifogah, in a statement, said the affected constituencies are Brass Constituency 1, Ogbia Constituency 2 and Southern Ijaw constituency IV.
According to him, in Brass Constituency 1, supplementary election would hold in polling units 11 to 16, Ward 6 (Cape Formoso).
Ifogah said in Ogbia Constituency 11, elections would hold in 65 polling units, which covers 19 polling units in Ward 2 (Otuokpti), 19 units Ward 3 (Ologi), 21 units in Ward 4 (Ayama) and six units in Ward 5 (Okodi).
He said 53 polling units are affected in Southern Ijaw Constituency 4, which include 34 polling units in Ward 16 (Ukubie) and 19 polling units in Ward 17 (Koluama).