By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo

The All Progressives Congress, APC, Aspirants Forum, APCAF, Akwa Ibom state chapter has demanded the redeployment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini and principal officials at the state Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the commission prepares to conduct court-ordered rerun elections in Essien Udim local government.

Addressing newsmen in Uyo at the weekend on behalf of the Forum, the state Coordinator, an APC aspirant for the Etinan/Nsit Ubium/Nsit Ibom Federal constituency seat in the 2019 election, Dr Chris Enoch expressed lack of trust and confidence in the electoral umpire under the watch of Igini to conduct the re-run elections without bias.

Enoch alleged that the Commission’s preferential treatment of the PDP and its stakeholders played out during the pre-election meetings of the stakeholders, adding that Igini’s post-election utterances demonstrated his inert hatred and disgust for the APC and its principal actors particularly Senator Godswill Akpabio.

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He stressed, “It is worthy of note that on the heels of the Appeal Court judgement on the case of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the candidate of APC in the 2019 election for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district in which Akpabio got a favourable ruling, the spokesperson of INEC Akwa Ibom state as directed by Igini, issued a press statement in which Akpabio was vilified and frontally accused of having sponsored thuggery during the election.

“Such a wild accusation smacks of a devilish agenda to poison the minds of the electorates against Akpabio in his local government, Essien Udim in which the rerun has been ordered by the appellate court and which is strategic to Akpabio’s victory and his final emergence as the Senator for the senatorial district.

“INEC’s strategy in that press release is simply pre-emptive and to spoil things for Akpabio. This further buttress the believe that INEC, Akwa Ibom state holds Senator Akpabio in utter disdain and opprobrium”

The APCAF state Coordinator maintained that the statement by INEC was also a glaring prelude for biased conduct of the rerun election in favour of Akpabio’s opponent.

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He explained that in advanced democracies gallant losers and magnanimous victors emerge at the end of electoral contest only in a seamless, rancour-free contest impartially supervised by an unbiased and uncompromised umpire guided by the rules of the game, personal morals and ethics.

“No sane institution would allow Igini and his top echelon of officials at the Akwa Ibom State INEC to conduct further elections in Akwa Ibom state, particularly if any APC candidate is involved in the contest. We are saying if this same crop of people are allowed to conduct the rerun election we cannot expect any positive outcome from that exercise.

“As an electoral umpire, you are supposed to remain neutral. We, therefore recommend that due and commensurate action should be taken by INEC headquarters, Abuja to inculcate some noble sense of patriotism and transparency in Mr Igini.

“On the basis of foregoing incontrovertible facts and observations, therefore, we members of APC Aspirants Forum, Akwa Ibom state chapter call for the immediate redeployment of Mr Igini and the posting of a new and impartial REC and INEC principal staff to Akwa Ibom such as would inspire confidence in the electorates preparatory to the conduct of a free fair, and acceptable rerun elections”, he stated.

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