By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Police Command said one Ejike Nwankwo, a staff of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, was arrested for alleged illegal possession of four card readers after the 2019 general election.
Police’s position is contrary to claims by INEC that its official was not arrested by the police.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Odiko MacDon who confirmed the arrest said Nwankwo was arrested last week Friday during the police routine stop-and-search where the equipment (4 recalibrated card readers) were recovered in the boot of his car.
SP MacDon, said the suspect has since been released on bail while a ‘’discreet’’ investigation was on-going to get to the bottom of the matter.
According to him, the Police have written to the electoral body for more details on the four card readers.
“Yes, there was an arrest by the men of the Command and the said person is an INEC staff. He was found to be in possession of four card readers. We have written to the Commission demanding to know why he was in possession of the card readers.”
“What we know is that he is with the ICT department after we had carried out a preliminary investigation. The Commissioner of Police has ordered us to carry out a more discreet investigation into the matter.”
“INEC is in a better position to explain why he was in possession of the card readers. Our own is to apprehend offenders and prosecute them.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had alleged that the Commission’s staff was arrested with “recalibrated card readers”, suggesting that the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini was engaging card reader technicians to “help him valid the doctored 2019 elections in Akwa Ibom State”.
But the Public Affairs Officer of INEC in Akwa Ibom, Mr. Don Etukudoh, on Wednesday in a release made available to newsmen explained that the four “empty card readers were used for training of Ad hoc staff by the officer during the elections.”
He emphasized that “the four card readers do not have data in them that could have influenced or affect the process or outcome of the elections”.
He said the suspect was incapacitated just after the polls and could not return the card readers because of the illness but left them in his car, which was taken to the mechanic by his brother-in-law while he was in the hospital.
He also explained that “In the hierarchy of reporting, the officer does not report directly to the Commissioner but to his unit head who reports to his head of department who in turn reports to the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
”The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini has been away from the State to South Africa and Malawi where he would deliver lectures preparatory for those countries’ elections and could not have engaged anyone for any unwholesome purpose as alleged.
“The Commission in the state under the leadership of Mike Igini remains resolute in its pursuit of democratic ideals and no amount of blackmail or intimidation would veer it off course” Etokudo stated in the statement.