Ahead of Saturday’s rerun senatorial election in Akwa Ibom State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure a level playing field for all candidates.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said the call was necessitated by the antecedents of the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, who it claimed worked for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 polls.
The Guardian recalled that the Court of Appeal cancelled elections in the Essein Udim Council Area and ordered a rerun for Saturday, January26, 2020.
“In spite of evident bias against the APC, Igini continues to preside over INEC in Akwa Ibom State. Igini controversially declared every candidate of PDP winner in 2019 elections.
“It is in record that Goodwill Akpabio challenged INEC and the Court of Appeal upheld his appeal, nullified PDP’s victory and ordered retrieval of the certificate of return INEC issued to the PDP candidate.
However, the Court of Appeal ordered rerun election in only Essein Udim Council Area, being Akpabio’s local government area.
“Akpabio, now Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, has opted out of the repeat election citing his current position which bestows higher responsibilities on him and INEC’s retention of Igini as REC in the state.
“A clear proof of compromise is the case of Akpabio’s state constituency where APC won and INEC refused to issue certificate of return till date. In fact, without the court order, Igini and INEC plan to repeat state constituency poll in Essein Udim on Saturday.
“APC won a Federal House of Representatives seat in Cross River and INEC changed the REC for Saturday’s rerun, but in Akwa Ibom, the REC did well for PDP hence he is being retained for all rerun polls where APC won.
“In fact the then operations head in 2019, Mr. Okereke who retired has been recalled and posted to Akwa Ibom to help bury APC as far as elections are concerned,” he stated.
Nabena also alleged that Hon. Nse Ntuen won Essien Udim state constituency election and was declared winner and returned elected by INEC’s Prof Ignatius Uduk, but Igini refused to give him certificate of return because he belonged to APC.
He added that the loser, however, went to the tribunal and the PDP case was struck out, noting that PDP appealed to Court of Appeal, which ruled that its case was rightly struck out at the tribunal.