By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Three University lecturers found to have allegedly been culpable in electoral malpractices during the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State are to be arraigned in court by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state.
This was disclosed by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, while addressing newsmen at the commission’s headquarters in Uyo on Tuesday.
Similarly, three staffers of the Commission from the ICT unit whose involvements in electoral malpractices were proven beyond reasonable doubt have been sacked.
According to Igini, this action has become necessary because of the unsustainable belief by some members of the public that the commission does not sanction persons involved in electoral malpractices during elections.
“We must have an institution that has integrity to protect the will of the people in any election. This will serve as a lesson and a clear message to those who will be engaged in INEC job in future in this state particularly those playing the role of supervising presiding officers as a very important link , as the last set of people in charge of election materials particularly the ballot papers and result sheets,” Mr. Igini added.
He regretted that, despite the training given to the electoral officers and staff of the commission, they went a different way in involving themselves in unethical conduct by manipulating and falsifying election results thereby producing outcomes that were contrary to the will of the people.
“The lecturers who were engaged as Collation and Returning Officers during the 2019 general elections were reported to have manipulated and falsified election results aimed at producing outcomes contrary to the will of the people as expressed through the ballot
“Following a formal request by the Commission the authorities of the affected institutions released the lecturers to appear before an investigative panel set up by INEC headquarters on the 12th and 26th August 2020.
“The panel subsequently established a prima facie documentary evidence of deliberate criminal manipulation of election results against the Collation/Returning Officers. They will be arraigned in court accordingly.
“In any electoral environment, in order to sustain the confidence of the people to vote, sustain and maintain their power in the electoral process as the best means of expressing the will of the people, anybody who faults electoral process must be punished; and so in the days ahead the Commission is going to arraign in court a number of academic lecturers from the rank of Doctors and Professors in Court for grievous deliberate act of election malpractice contrary to the will of the people expressed at the polling units
“As I speak to you, not less than three of the staff of the Commission from the ICT unit, those in the rank of executive and administrative officers were also involved in action that completely undermined the electoral process and integrity of the Commission. In line with the extant rules, the power of the Commission to appoint, dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over its staff, have now dismissed these staff from the Commission in Akwa Ibom state”, he said.