*REC says Party disobeyed court order, not INEC
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
YOUTHS of the All Progressives Congress, Akwa Ibom State chapter yesterday stormed the State Office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, demanding the Residents Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini removal over alleged bias.
The protestesting youths numbering over one thousand who stormed the office in many buses were chanting “Mike Igini must go,”.
They blocked the entrance of INEC office and prevented staff of the Commission from going in or coming out of the premises in the morning hours of Wednesday.
Some were carrying placards with various inscriptions such as, “Igini is biased”, “democracy is not for sale”, “INEC must act now”, “Akwa Ibom REC is compromised”, “Igini don’t kill Akwa Ibom political parties”, “Igini is partisan”, “Igini is a factional Chairman of a party”, etc
The State APC Youth Leader, Dr. Awak Clement while speaking with some newsmen
lamented that Barr Mike Igini had openly declared war against APC even before the primaries, adding that for peace to reign in the state, the REC should either resign or sacked by INEC.
Clement who appealed to the national headquarters of INEC to take swift action on the matter, lamented ” Igini is not the only Resident Electoral Commissioner that Nigeria. Why should he single himself out to fight APC in the state”
Also speaking, Mr. Ubok-Obong Umoh said the REC should be probed over the comments he made during an interview recently on a national television stations that “APC in the state will not have any candidate for 2023 elections”.
“His statement is unacceptable not just to members of APC but to the generality of the peace-loving people of Akwa Ibom state.We are protesting clear partisanship demonstrated by Barr. Mike Igini” Umoh said.
But addressing newsmen shortly after the protest, Mike Igini, who dismissed the allegation that INEC disobeyed the Federal High Court (FHC) order regarding the State Chairmanship of the party, said rather it was the leadership of the party that violated Appeal court order to maintain status quo ante.
He reiterated that Augustine Ekanem had been declared winner at the party State Congress of held October in 2021, by scoring 1,278 while Stephen Ntukekpo, had scored 006 votes.
“But all they did was to drop “1′ and put it behind 006, so Ekanem is now made to score 278 and Ntukekpo magically scored 1006. With this forged document, they proceeded to the Federal High Court and asked the Court that if Ntukekpo Scored 1006, and Ekanem scored 278 (which is not correct), Ntukekpo should be declared winner.
“Relying on this forged document, and despite the fact that the report of the Commissíon was before the Court, for some inexplicable reasons the court ordered that he (Ntukekpo) should be sworn in. We checked our records and saw this forgery.
“In the original results Augustine Ekanem scored 1,278 and Ntukekpo scored 006. But they produced another result. And the other party members proceeded to file an appeal of stay of execution of the Federal High Court judgement.
“At the Court of Appeal, on April 7th, the court gave order to maintain status quo ante, which means the disputing parties remain where they were before the dispute. That means Augustine Ekanem will remain in charge. And when the court gave the order to maintain status quo, on April 7th Ntukekpo has not been sworn in.
” But four days after, he (Ntukekpo) was sworn in, in total disregard of the Court of Appeal order to maintain Status quo. At this point Nigerians obviously who will you say disobeyed court order?. It is the party leadership , politicians themselves who went to swear in Stephen Ntukekpo.
“As a commission our commitment to give meaning and purpose to the ballot as the best means of expression of the will of the people in a democracy remains unwavering. And it will be very clear that if the institution representing democracy must have a hopeful future, it must be based on the rule of Law.
” The rule of law is preferable at all times to the rule of individual, no matter how magnanimous. And so if democracy must have hopeful future in Akwa Ibom state, in Nigeria, it must be predicated on the rule of Law”, Igini explained.