Joe Effiong, Uyo
The governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Iboro Out, has threatened to drag Governor Udom Emanuel to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, if he is eventually cleared by the Nigerian judiciary as winner of the March 9, 2019, governorship election.
Otu at a press conference which he jointly addressed with the governorship candidate of Young Democratic Party (YDP), Mr Ezekiel Nya-Etok in Uyo on Sunday, said he would challenge the Emmanuel’s election at the tribunal, first for alleged vote buying because he believed the votes that were given to the PDP governorship candidate were either his votes or those of Nya-Etok’s.
Apart from Mr Nsima Ekere, the All Progressives Candidate (APC) governorship candidate, Otu and Nya-etok were the only two of the 45 governorship candidates in the state that didn’t stepped down for Gov. Emmanuel, the PDP candidate.
Vote buying apart, Otu in the statement he released with Nya-Etok said the report they received from their agents, backroom staff and supporters indicated that the March 9, 2019, elections were not free, fair and credible.
“From the data collated so far, it is evident to us that widespread vote-buying and voter intimidation occurred across 75% of our polling units. The two major political parties employed several schemes to extort votes from the helpless electorate either by offering instant financial rewards for votes at the polling units or by taking voters to undisclosed locations to pay for their votes and voter’s cards; the price ranging fromN1,000 to N10, 000, depending on the ward and local government.
“These political parties permeated not only the electorate, but also some electoral staff to play ball and look the other way while those despicable actions took place. Some parties paid in dollars while others paid in Naira. It is widely known that the PDP, for example, paid N1.1 million in every polling unit. We have videos and photographic evidence to this effect and hundreds of individuals to testify and corroborate this,” the two governorship candidates said.
They said even people in their respective polling units asked them to make better offers before they could vote for them, but they declined.
“Many other local government areas had it worse – a long list of people were shot, macheted, hospitalised and traumatised as a result of loss of property and belongings in the course of the election. We have pictures and videos of individuals who are still holed up in hospitals and unable to get care because the political parties that promised to foot their bills and encouraged them to keep mum so as not to expose their atrocities have abandoned them to their fate.
“Many of these people are willing to come out and testify to this. From the tour we have been on after the elections, we have seen that there are many personal stories that should be brought forward so that justice can prevail,” they said.
On his part, Nya-Etok asked INEC to ban multiple rallies by political parties; rather a party should be allowed to organise only the opening and closing of their campaigns with rallies while the rest of the campaigns should be through town-hall engagement.
He warned that if Nigerian electoral managers cannot stop vote buying, no kind of voting would guarantee fair election since the expected electronic voting system would even be easier to purchase votes from the electorate.