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Ekpenyong, Akpabio lock horns over outcome of rerun in Akwa Ibom

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Even though the battle for the soul of Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District has been won and lost in a rerun election, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the incumbent Senator Christopher Ekpenyong have continued to throw jibes at each other. Senator Ekpenyong, who threw the first salvo, indicated that President Muhammadu Buhari did not get a good security report about Akpabio before he appointed him a minister.

However, in a swift reaction, the minister’s media assistant, Ani Ekong, in a statement, advised Ekpenyong not to gloat over the Mike Igini-led INEC-aided victory in the Senatorial rerun election.

While speaking to reporters at the National Assembly after winning the senatorial rerun election on 25 January 2020 and taking the oath of office, he said, “If you look at the records, in 2015 how many votes did President Buhari scored? Akpabio was abusing Buhari everywhere. This is the man he said could not read, could not interpret the budget. Today, he is lucky to be a minister under this same man. 

“So, he has been fighting, thinking that Igini, the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner would be removed so that he can get an electoral officer who will take his dollars and then write the result and announce what he has written in his house but God has vindicated us.

“The vindication is that even in the rerun which he said he was not going to run, which he ran for, he brought the Deputy Inspector-General of Police; he pocketed the DIG, and he wanted him to do what he wants him to do but God prevailed. He packed all those people to his brother’s house to started filling the forms. The information came to me and he forgot that on the same January 23 I arrested 162 thugs that he hired from Edo. Are Edo people thugs? They shouldn’t be thugs.

“I don’t know whether the president had got good security information about him, His education, his workplace, his attitude. Forget he was a governor of a state because he misdirected and misled investors into Akwa Ibom; there is nothing. When you talk of Uncommon, what is uncommon? Of course, it’s his uncommon failure.”

Ekpenyong said the former governor was notorious for rigging election in Akwa Ibom State. He said on the fateful day of election over 70 Corps members and electoral officers and materials were carted away into senator Apkabio’s brother’s house called Ibang Akpabio to fill the forms. He said why Akpabio had been fighting Mike Iginni was so he could have a field to perpetuate electoral fraud. 

According to Ekpenyong, “So, he has been doing all manner of things to remove the REC from Akwa Ibom because all the times there had never been election in Akwa Ibom. When he was governor there was never any election because what he did was to pull out resources and concoct results and announce them.”

His said in the February 2019 election the margin was obvious, from the result that was announced in nine out the 10 local government areas, adding, “I scored well over 134,000 votes. From the margin of whatever was collated by INEC I was given 118,321 votes and he had about 83,000 votes.
 
“He insisted and took me to the tribunal and wanted the tribunal to cancel certain wards and units’ elections. He came with pseudo results he actually cooked from his house totalling 69,221 votes which he took to the tribunal and wanted the tribunal to take it. He did all manner of things, things that are unethical but the tribunal still said it was unfair for them to refuse my victory, which is God-given and people-driven victory.”  

Akpabio’s media aid, Ekong, however, insisted his principal did not participate in the election and that there was no basis for Ekpenyong’s gloating.

“In any case since December 2019, Senator Godswill Akpabio had written to his party that he had withdrawn from the election because of higher national responsibilities as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs,” he said. “It was on this premise that the party replaced him with a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo.”

Ekong explained that Akwa Ibom State’s Chairman of APC, Hon. Ini Okopido, also held a widely publicized press conference to announce that no candidate of the party would participate in the election because the INEC REC had shown that he was not an impartial umpire. 

“Card-carrying members of PDP, who had contested in previous elections were appointed as returning officers,” he said. “It was manifestly clear that APC was going to contest against INEC.”

He said it was why the REC shamelessly took the result of the first election, which Senator Akpabio had clearly won and mutilated it in his office in Uyo. 

“At the tribunal, a lecturer who was a returning officer during cross-examination admitted that he was ordered by INEC’s REC, Mike Igini, to cancel over 60,000 votes which had already been collated for Senator Akpabio.”

He said the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Calabar was a serious indictment of Mr. Igini and his capacity to conduct free and fair elections, adding that they should be ashamed of themselves. 

“The people know their leader and not the one imposed upon them by a compromised INEC’s REC and when the time comes over and over again they would demonstrate it,” Ekong stated.


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