INEC Affirms Position Of Appeal Court Decision Over Rerun In Essien Udim LGA - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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INEC Affirms Position Of Appeal Court Decision Over Rerun In Essien Udim LGA

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The Court of Appeal in Calabar has affirmed the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the State that the widespread violence and irregularities during elections in Essien Udim LGA, had vitiated the outcome of the elections in that LGA.

The Court re-affirmed as valid and preserved the elections as declared by the Commission in 9 out of the 10 LGAs that make up Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District. It, however, ordered a rerun of the Senatorial election within 90 days in Essien Udim LGA ONLY, where the Commission had decried the massive rigging and manipulations that culminated in the dubious award of 61,329 votes to Senator Akpabio alone in the LGA, intended to upturn the results of the other 9 LGAs.

This was when the accreditation figure from the Smart Card Readers (SCRs), confirmed by ticks on the Voter Register for the entire Essien Udim stood at just 19,455. The Commission rejected this travesty and maintained its position despite pressure, blackmail and threats to lives of lNEC officials.

The Court also ordered fresh elections in the same Essien Udim LGA in respect of the House of Representatives seat while upholding elections in Ikot Ekpene and Obot Akara, the other two LGAs that constitute the Federal Constituency.

The State Constituency judgment is being awaited.

Nigerians will recall that Essien Udim was the only State Constituency (of the 26) where INEC did not declare anyone winner or make a return on account of the violence and irregularities reported by the Commission’s field staff and corroborated by the Press as well as local and international observers.

As widely reported then, thugs loyal to Senator Godswill Akpabio had gone on rampage in most parts of the LGA as soon as the polls were open. They snatched and stuffed ballot boxes, foreclosed the use of SCRs, brutalized INEC ad hoc personnel and prevented voters from exercising their franchise. The brigandage got to a climax when Senator Akpabio personally led the thugs to overrun INEC office in the LGA. Staff were held hostage for hours, TVC Television news crew and even foreign observers were assaulted while they fretfully doctored election results.

The decision of the Commission not to condone or reward the impunity in Essien Udim was earlier upheld by the Elections Petition Tribunal in Uyo before the appeal.

This affirmation of the Commission’s position as exemplified by the Appeal Court ruling is victory for the electoral process and is heartily welcomed by the Commission.

Details pertaining to the rerun elections shall be announced by the Commission at a later date.

Signed
Don Etukudo,
Public Affairs Officer,
INEC, Akwa Ibom State

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