- Some INEC officials in the Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom have been held hostage by some gunmen
- The ugly development was confirmed by the commission's spokesman in the state, Don Etukudoh, on Saturday, January 25
- The INEC staff were conducting the rerun election in a ward which happens to be that of the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio
The rerun election in Essien Udim, Akwa Ibom, went awry after officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were allegedly held hostage inside a public secondary school in the area.
Confirming the news to journalists on Saturday, January 25, Don Etukudoh, INEC's spokesman in the state, said that the officials were held hostage in Independent High School, Ukana.
Commenting on the life-threatening development, Etukudoh said: “They are still being held hostage right now."
In line with the spokesman's report, another INEC staff who did not disclose his identity revealed: “In Independent High School, Ukana, poll officials have been taken in, we learnt that there are persons who are either they are fake or real DSS officers and soldiers.
"The poll officials, their phones have been taken away from them, we can’t reach them and an insider has sent a message to us that what they are doing there they are thumb-printing, they don’t allow the use of card reader in the place.”
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Akpabio had dissociated himself from the ongoing senatorial rerun election in Akwa Ibom Northwest senatorial district.
Though Akpabio was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the first ballot, he had since withdrawn from the election, saying he prefers continuing his position as minister.
Akpabio and the APC first applied to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for replacement of the candidate for the poll.
INEC, however, said the minister cannot be replaced with another candidate either can he and his party pull out of the election.
As the rerun kicks, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), alleged that "Akpabio's thugs" brutalised a journalist.
"This is Sunday Godwin, a journalist with Global Pilot, he was brutalized by Sen Akpabio’s thugs at his polling unit in Independent High way, Essien Udim. Sen. Akpabio is re-enacting his Warsaw principle as promised," the party said on his official Twitter handle.
However, according to the minister's media aide on information, Anietie Ekong, Akpabio said he had no interest in the rerun.
The minister's aide said his principal is not physically present in the affected local government, adding that he has no interest in the election.
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