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Esuene, others seek voiding of election results in Akwa Ibom


nLABOUR Party (LP) candidate, Senator Helen Esuene, and other stakeholders have called for the cancellation of the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, alleging shortage of ballot papers and snatching of ballot boxes in Eket, Esit Eket, Onna among others places.

The Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the PDP candidate, Mr. Udom Emmanuel as winner.

Also, youths suspected to be All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters, yesterday protested in Uyo calling on INEC in the state to cancel the governorship and the House of Assembly elections in the state.

The protesters, who barricaded Oron Road burning tyres and chanting slogan of the APC, displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Stop killing our people in the name of elections’.

According to Esuene, the outcome of the result was disappointing saying: “INEC as an organisation put in a lot of work to guarantee a free and fair election but the Nigerian public have displayed great indiscipline. INEC should cancel the result as the people are short changed and disenfranchised of their right to vote and their vote counted.”

While thanking the general populace for coming out to exercise their franchise, She said: “The exercise of yesterday (Saturday) was more of show of financial strength than the capturing of the wishes of the Akwa Ibom people. Voters were enticed with cash and goods everywhere and cajoled into voting accordingly before they were given what was promised them. This is a clear departure from what the law says.

“Secondly the state was infused by mercenaries imported from everywhere to if need be kill and go. Election materials were diverted from the way to the units while some were forcefully taken away from units with the assistance of mercenaries to unknown destinations. After normal voting by accredited voters, the remaining ballot papers were thumb- printed with the full knowledge of INEC officials and security personnel and any agent who tried to resist this was forced out.”

The Senator who was emerged in the third position in the final result by INEC said: “The materials and personnel that were diverted from the way to polling units ended up in the homes of some VIPs where the voting exercise was illegally conducted. Such homes were heavily guarded by security personnel. It is common knowledge that the numbers in the voters register in many units were fraudulently inflated and the cards do not belong to known persons. In other areas thumb- printing was done irrespective of the card readers.

“In order to serve as deterrent for future elections, results of such inflated units should be discarded and only the genuine results of the units should be used for the computation of the winner.

“There are several irregularities within Eket Senatorial district and some parts of the state. It is most unfortunate but is not as if it is taking us unawares or we are surprised because we were told that a lot of violence activities and arrangement were in the offing. So hearing what is happening in the state does not come as a surprise.”

Mr. Samuel Atang, Alliance for Democracy governorship candidate alleged shortage of electoral materials in his wards.

He said: “In ward 2 central Ikot Udota Unit, 300 ballots papers instead of 720 ballot papers were delivered while Etebi Ikot Udota units received 270 instead of 632.’’

Atang however, blamed INEC for the irregularities in the governorship and House of Assembly elections saying: “I won’t want to say it is the political parties affairs but it is the INEC which conducts the elections. Since the materials were in the hands of the INEC officials, it cannot be party per say, even though we understand the undertone.”

Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Austin Okojie, said he was not aware of any INEC official conniving with politicians to rig the election.

His words: “I have trained and warned our electoral officers against dispatching any electoral materials to politicians and anyone caught contravening the law will be dealt with accordingly.

Okojie, however, admitted that there were reported cases of violence in Uyo, Ibesikpo, Nsit Ubium, Mkpat Enin, Nsit Ibom and Etinan Local Government Councils.

The protesters, whose mission was to register their grievances with the INEC commissioner, Mr. Austin Okojie, were stopped by the security operatives guarding the office.

The action of the youths may not be unconnected with reactions of prominent APC supporters in the state who called for the cancellation of the elections in the state, alleging that it was marred by irregularities.

Meanwhile, former Governor Obong Victor Attah, while speaking with journalists in Uyo, denied voting in his own Ibesikpo Asutan Local Council ward.

Attah, who said he was told that some men came into the centre and carted away all electoral materials, including card readers when he wanted to cast his vote, said the men, who were in police uniform, came into the unit with machetes, guns and they shot into the air sporadically.

He said: “The experience that I had today is one that I want to pray and hope will soon be on Channels Television. I got to my unit a little before 10:00 a.m. with my PVC in my hand and I looked round, the whole place was empty except for the people who came out to vote. I didn’t see any INEC ad-hoc member of staff.

“I asked where they were. The people told me that they were hiding somewhere. So, at last, we found them. When they arrived, I told them that my name is Obong Victor Attah, former governor of Akwa Ibom State. I have come to vote so I will like to do my accreditation.

“They said sorry sir, it is not possible. I asked them why was it not possible? They told me that at the distribution of electoral materials centre, some people came with machetes, guns and they shot in the air. They carted away all the election materials including the INEC card readers.

“Not just my unit, many other units in my area. They (INEC) arrived there without any electoral materials and card readers.

“As soon as I finished talking with them and I wanted to leave, a police van ran to me. There were four policemen in the van. A woman police introduced herself as the Police Public Relations Officer of the police; and with her were a cameraman and a driver.

“I asked her if she heard what the INEC members of staff said. She said no. I repeated what had transpired between me and the INEC members of staff. What she said to me was ‘Please, tell your people not to make trouble.’

“I told her but you are going to report factual thing about what
happened. A call was put through to the AIG Baba Adisa Bolanta, to come and supervise elections here. I tried to talk with him but the line was so bad. I couldn’t hear him properly,” he recounted.

“My appeal which I have made to everybody that is prepared to listen to me is to accept the fact that truly there were no elections whatever in Akwa Ibom State. The whole elections should just be cancelled. I am not talking about my unit alone. I am talking about cancelling the entire elections in Akwa Ibom State and conducting it as soon as INEC finds it possible so that all eyes will be on INEC.”

In another development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State has won the governorship election held on Saturday as Mr. Udom Emmanuel scored 996,071 votes to beat Umana Okon Umana of APC who scored 89,865.

Announcing the result, the state Collation Officer and Vice
Chancellor of University of Calabar, Prof. James Ekpoke, said Emmanuel has met the requirement as required by the Electoral Law in all the 31 local councils.

The PDP candidate won in all the local councils with the exception of Urue Offong/ Uruko where APC won with 3,792 votes as against PDP’s 2,777 out of a total of 7,128 votes cast.

In other results, the Labour Party candidate, Senator Helen Esuene, scored 8,600 votes to come third.

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