- Senator Godswill Akpabio and two other leaders of the APC in the south-south, Chief Don Etiebet and Obong Nsima Ekere, have blamed INEC for the party's loss in Akwa Ibom state
- The APC leaders said the party would do everything legal to reclaim its victory, adding that their party won in 26 local government areas of the state
- Chief Etiebet alleged that the INEC connived with the PDP to rig the election in favour of the ruling party in state
Former Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the south-south, have faulted the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Governor Udom Emmanuel the winner of Saturday, March 9, gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom.
The Nation reports that Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, the party's governorship candidate and Chief Don Etiebet, said the party would do everything legal to reclaim its victory, adding that their party won in 26 local government areas of the state.
Legit.ng gathered that the south-south leaders blamed APC’s loss in last Saturday, March 9, governorship and House of Assembly elections on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu.
According to them, the INEC chair refused to redeploy the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, from Akwa Ibom, in line with the umpire’s practice since 1999.
Ekere, at a press briefing in his Ewet housing estate residence in Uyo, the state capital, alleged that Igini had from the outset shown through his utterances and actions that he was determined to frustrate the APC from winning elections in the state.
He said: "Now, interestingly, months before the elections, the APC family in Akwa Ibom state had expressed a lot of reservations about the character of Mike Igini.
“We had told the entire country and the world that Igini had shown the world that he was far from neutral in the way he was preparing for the elections and his utterances among his staff during training sessions and the things he said showed clearly that the man had a mindset that he had sworn severally that under his watch, the APC cannot win elections in Akwa Ibom state.
“All we wanted was for INEC to allow Akwa Ibom people decide for themselves who they wanted. It was not for INEC and the resident electoral commissioner to come and decide for Akwa Ibom people which political party must win and which one must not win under his watch."
According to him, Igini is supposed to be a neutral umpire but his conduct and actions in the just concluded elections have proved otherwise.
He wondered why it was so difficult for the INEC chairman and other authorities to listen to their pleas to change Igini as the REC in Akwa Ibom.
Arguing that Igini had stayed long enough as the REC to be redeployed, the APC candidate said: “From 1999 when elections started again in this country, every election year, the REC and other staff of the INEC who have been resident in a state for a period of time were always moved around.
“That way, you are sure they will not allow their alliances and their friendships they have developed in the state within that period they have stayed to influence their conduct.
“Surprisingly, INEC refused to do this. And this is the first time this is happening. They allowed Igini to frustrate the wishes of Akwa Ibom people. This is most unfortunate."
Ekere insisted that his party was robbed of victory at the polls, adding that his party won in 26 of the 31 local government areas but were denied of that victory in the connivance between the PDP and INEC.
“We have evidence of this and we will use appropriate legal means to reclaim the mandate. I urge you all to remain calm," he added.
Senator Akpabio also blamed the APC’s fate on Igini, saying he found it hard to understand why his Essien Udim local government area with voting strength of 105,000, was allotted just a bit above 6,000 votes.
He said the elections were massively rigged by the PDP in connivance with the INEC leadership in the state.
In his reactions, Etiebet vowed that the APC would do everything legally permissible to reclaim its victory, insisting that the party won in 26 local government areas. He accused INEC of changing the results announced at various polling units which put the APC in a clear lead ahead of the PDP.
Responding to the allegations, Igini said he came to the state to change the old way of doing things, adding that the election was free and fair, devoid of any bias.
Igini asked the losers to direct their petitions to the tribunals.
He said: ”We have conducted the elections, so I don’t want to be joining issues with people. I have heard everything they have said about me.
”After the elections, the constitution says results can only be questioned in the form of petitions and in election tribunals that have already been set up and inaugurated.
”At any point in time, any person who has issues with the outcome of the elections should go to the tribunal.”
Igini denied backing any party, and challenged any politician to prove that he has ever had any private meeting with them or collected any form of gratification to rig the elections.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom on Tuesday, March 12, called on security agencies to arrest the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere and Senator Godswill Akpabio for alleged electoral offences.
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