*Says Commission not frustrated over ongoing trial of Ad-hoc staff

By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo

THE Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini has disclosed that there are no polling units without registered voters in the state.

Igini made the disclosure weekend while briefing newsmen on activities and preparations being put in place by the Independent National Electoral Commissíon (INEC) ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He explained that the one thousand three hundred and seventy-four (1,374) new polling units in the state created to ease voting on election day are already having people through the ongoing Continous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise.

His words: “On the ongoing CVR the message to the people of Akwa Ibom State, is that those who have not registered before who have just attained the age of 18, this is the opportunity for you to get yourself registered.
We are now on the final phase of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise.

“The good news, following some of the press statement we’ve issued before with respect to the one thousand three hundred seventy-four (1374) new polling units, is that as at today we don’t have zero polling units, without registrants.

“This project 2023 is for all of us, to give meaning and purpose to the ballot as the best means of expression of the will of the people in a democracy”

The Akwa Ibom REC, advice that all stakeholders including permanent and Ad-hoc staff of INEC have a duty to play in order to rekindle the faith and confidence of the public in the ballot as the best means of expression of the will of the people in a democracy.

Igini, pointed out that the crisis between party members of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in the state, due to falsification of the original result of the party’s Congress was exactly what led to the conviction of its Ad-hoc staff during 2019 polls, Professor Peter Ogban for 3years.

He wondered how the person who had in the original result scored 006 now scored 1006 and the person who scored 1,278, now scored 278, stressing: “This was the abracadabra that led to a crisis that is completely unnecessary. Our report cannot change.

“May the day never come when an umpire who took an oath to always keep its oath of office will see something in the morning and see something different in the evening. May the day never come when something that we have seen to be white suddenly become black.

“Those who desire the honour of a king, an honour of office must not break the Law of the land. As a Commissíon, since October last year we have not spoken on the matter, because it is a matter for them. They are in Court that is the much I can say with respect to that.

“In respect of INEC Ad-hoc staff, who generated false results and published same in 2019 election, the trial has been ongoing since December 2020 before an Akwa Ibom State high court. The Judge just recused himself at the last sitting.

. “In a democracy, effective power to govern must lie in the hands of those who are duly elected, therefore those whose actions undermine the process must be brought to book”, he asserted.

Asked if INEC feels frustrated over the ongoing trial, Igini said: “Because we are talking about due process we cannot be frustrated. Once you have chosen the path of due process you don’t worry about traffic.
All that we need to do and we have done is to register through a petition to the Chief Judge to chronicle how we got to this point.

” Justice is three way directional- Justice to the Commissíon, the prosecution, to the accused person and more importantly justice to the society that its rules have been violated.
So what we are interested in, is that justice must be done.

“Five months after the prosecution had closed its case , the accused person have failed to open its defence, coming up with all manners of frivolous objections to avoid opening his defence. I must say that there are limits to some of these Shenanigans.

” Since 2020 the idea is to frustrate the case so that justice will not be done. The defense Lawyer accused the Judge of bias, without proof, no evidence, or instances where the judge could be accused in the entire trial of bias. Such an accusation must not be taken lightly.

“And where a counsel deploy accusation of bias as a strategy to blackmail a judge, the judge is required to demonstrate the courage in line with the judicial oath to continue with that matter because what he is trying to do is for the case to start afresh”

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