By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE court-ordered re-run elections for the Senatorial, House of Representatives, and State constituency seats in Essien Udim local government council has been peaceful and orderly in most polling units.
However, there was a low turnout of voters at the Ukana West, ward11, unit 009 of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
There was also heavy security presence inside and in front of the polling unit located at the Independence High School, Ukana. comprising the police, FRSC, Nigeria Security, and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
Only members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were seen at the three voting points in the polling unit exercising their franchise.
This was however not surprising as the All Progressives Congress(APC) had Friday evening announced that all it’s three candidates for the Re-run had withdrawn from the exercise citing irregularities by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) led by its resident electoral commissioner in the state as its reason.
Even heavily armed security operatives and armed thugs barred journalists and persons without Permanent Voters Card(PVC) from entry into the polling unit.
Sources around the area, however, explained that the development was as a result of attempts by thugs to disrupt the exercise at the polling unit earlier.
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An INEC accredited Photojournalist identified as Godwin Sunday was manhandled by some political thugs at the polling unit.
A chieftain of the PDP and Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio who spoke to newsmen at the polling unit called for the deployment of security personnel because of the plan by the APC to hijack election materials.
However, at most polling units visited including Ukana Uwaeast Essien Udim which has 2 polling units voting is going on smoothly and orderly.
Also, heavy security presence was observed at the Methodist School Ukana (Okop-Akama) which is a collation centre.
Residents of the Local government Council were however observed as early as 9:00 am going about their normal businesses as the restriction of movement earlier announced by the Police in the Council in view of the Re-run was not observed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anietie Ekong Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio has swiftly issued a statement tagged, “DON’T LINK SENATOR AKPABIO TO ANY CHARADE IN ESSIEN UDIM” following social media reports linking mayhem to his boss.
He stated, “The news flying about linking Senator Godswill Akpabio to any rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area is fake.
“It is well known that because of higher national responsibilities as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio had withdrawn his candidature from the said election. He was replaced by the APC with Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo.
“The other candidates who were scheduled for the elections, Rt Hon Nse Ntuen and Rt. Hon Emmanuel Akpan have written to announce their withdrawal from the elections.
“And just yesterday, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Hon Ini Okopido at a widely publicized press conference announced that the APC will not participate in the rerun elections.
“So on what basis would any sane human being link Senator Akpabio to whatever is happening in Essien Udim Local Government Area. As I write Senator Akpabio is not even in Essien Udim. He’s in Uyo.
“He has no interest whatsoever in what is going on there and had advised his supporters to heed the call of the State APC and boycott the elections. We have however gathered that PDP some sponsored thugs were planning to carry out a sinister plot during the rerun elections and link it to Senator Akpabio.
“Security agencies should be on the watch out for miscreants and sponsored thugs, apprehend them and visit the full weight of the law on them.
“We urge the general public to ignore infantile propaganda linking Senator Akpabio to anything that is going on in Essien Udim LGA in the name of rerun elections”