By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Youth from All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State have staged a protest to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Uyo, the state capital, demanding immediate redeployment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini from the state.
The youth numbering in hundreds carrying placards with various inscriptions on Monday, invaded at the commission’s main entrance and prevented free access to and out of the premises for hours.
They alleged that Mr. Igini has collected financial inducement amounting to billions of US Dollars from the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who is seeking a second term in office on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They also accused REC of handing over the unclaimed Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the Governor, besides also accusing him of not allowing a level playing ground for other political parties in the state to participate in the 2019 elections process.
The APC youth also alleged that the recruitment of the Ad hoc staff in the state for the elections was done by Mr. Igini in connivance with the Governor, adding that over 90 percent of the Ad hoc staff recruited in the state for the exercise are PDP loyalists.
Despite the heavy presence of the security operatives manning the complex, the angry youth insisted that none of the INEC staff would go out from the premises, even at the close of work until Mr. Igini is transfer from the state.
All entreaties made to the mob by the State’s Commissioner of Police, CP Bashir Makama who arrive the scene upon distress call to him, to disperse from the Commission’s gate fell on deaf ears as the youth refused to retreat.
One of the leaders of the youth, Mr. Anthony John who spoke to New Nigerian said, “We don’t want to suffer what we saw in 2015 elections; we want free and fair elections in this state. For us to have this, REC, Mr. Mike Igini must go. Information reaching us showed that he has collected billions of US Dollars from Governor Emmanuel to rig elections in favour of PDP.”
Collaborating the position of the APC youth, a group who identified itself as Forum of All Political Parties (FAPP) in the state has called for the redeployment of the REC in the state, Mr. Mike Igini.
At a press conference yesterday night, FAPP leveled many allegations against Mr. Igini and passed a vote of no confidence on INEC as umpire to conduct credible elections in the state.
FAPP Secretary, Prince Jude Titus who read the text of the press conference accused INEC in the state of being partisan contrary the law establishing it, adding that the commission has been dinning with the PDP led government in the state at the detriment of other political parties.
The statement read, “INEC has betrayed unbridled partisanship through the selection of its ad hoc staff, some of whom are drawn from the employees of the Commission, contrary to extant practices and institutional requirements.
“Through connivance with the state government, all the Ad hoc staff of the Commission is made up of loyal members and supporters of the PDP. In addition, the Commission has acted as though it were part of the Government House in Uyo.
“In spite of our representations to the head office of the Commission in Abuja, nothing has been done to allay our concern that the INEC office in Akwa Ibom State is not a fair umpire and cannot deliver a free, fair and transparent election because it is partisan and in bed with the ruling PDP government in the state. This anomaly must be addressed”, the statement added.
FAPP also PDP led government in the state of stockpiling arms and recruiting thugs and terrorists to be used to rig the elections.
“What happened on the eve of the now rescheduled 16 February 2019 elections proved beyond reasonable doubt that the alarm we raised was not unfounded. On the eve of the first scheduled sets of elections, the Police arrested more than 500 thugs in various parts of the state.
“Confessions by the captured criminals showed clearly that they were brought into the state from other parts of the country by PDP politicians. The thugs were arrested with sophisticated arms and ammunitions”, the group further alleged.
FAPP however called on the security agents to carry out thorough investigation of those thugs with the purpose of determining who brought them into the state while their sponsors should be promptly prosecuted in accordance with the law.
When contacted, the REC, Mr. Mike Igini, debunked all the allegations as false and described it calculated attempts by those manufacturing the allegations with sole aim of discrediting his hard earned personality and that of the commission.
Igini attributed the false allegations made against him and the commission to reasons that he refused to allow all politicians and parties in the state to meddle in the process of conducting free, fair and credible elections in the state, such that will stand as a reference point for future elections in the state.
According to Mr. Igini, attempt by politicians and parties to want to interfere in the election process in the state is an abomination that must never be allowed.
He however reiterated the commitment of INEC to conduct credible polls in the state, adding that the commission under his command will not shift ground neither will it comprise on the acceptable and best practice of election processes that will make Akwa Ibom proud.
Similarly, the state commissioner of police, CP Bashir Makama has also denied the report that over 500 suspects were arrested last Saturday as claimed in some quarters within the state.
Makama who also denied that the suspects which number about 61 were members of PDP, called on the media to avoid sensational while political parties and their candidates should learn to play the game by rules as the peace of the state is greater than an individual business or political ambition.