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Appeal Court ruling for rerun in Akwa Ibom senatorial district vindicates us, says INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State has said that the Appeal Court judgment calling for a re-run in Essien Udom Local Council of the state was a confirmation of an earlier stand of the commission.

A statement signed by the commission’s Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Don Etukudo, and made available to The Guardian in Uyo, yesterday, said: “The widespread violence and irregularities during elections in Essien Udim Local Council had vitiated the outcome of the elections in that council. The court reaffirmed as valid and preserved the elections as declared by the commission in nine out of the 10 local councils that make up Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District.

“It, however, ordered a re-run of the senatorial election within 90 days in Essien Udim Local Council 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 local council intended to upturn the results of the other nine local councils.

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“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 Local Council in respect of the House of Representatives seat while upholding elections in Ikot-Ekpene and Obot Akara, the other two local councils 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 member of staff and corroborated by the media as well as local and international observers.”

Etukudo, who stated that the commission during the elections received reports of nefarious activities by thugs in most parts of the council area, where they snatched and stuffed ballot boxes, among others, said: “The brigandage got to a climax when Senator Akpabio allegedly led the thugs to overrun INEC office in the council. Members of staff of the commission were held hostage for hours, TVC television news crew and even foreign observers were also assaulted.

“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.”

On the date for the re-run, the commission said that details regarding it would be made public in a later date.

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