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By Dapo Akinrefon

Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr.  Mike Igini, yesterday, restated the status of political party primaries monitored in the state, insisting that Senator Godswill Akpabio has not been recognised as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the North West senatorial district.

Igini also insisted that Mr. Udom Ekpoudom had the highest votes and was declared winner as the APC candidate for the senatorial district.

The REC, whose five-year tenure comes to an end soon, said: “In the last few days, despite the fact that many aggrieved individuals, who participated in political party primaries had gone to court to seek redress, I have been inundated with calls and questions mainly from members and contestants of various elective primaries of the APC, making enquiries and wanting to know exactly the position with respect to the APC primaries in Akwa Ibom State.

“The enquiries were in respect to senatorial, federal constituencies, governorship and state House of Assembly candidacy in Akwa Ibom State towards the 2023 general election.

“I am, therefore, once more, impelled to restate for the records the status of party primaries monitored in Akwa Ibom State as my five-year tenure comes to an end and do state as follows:

“Generally, in Akwa Ibom State, all the political parties that conducted party primaries in compliance with the provisions of Section 84(i) 2022 Electoral Act were monitored by the various teams constituted for the exercise by the state office and reports of the outcome endorsed and forwarded to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

“However, not all political parties conducted primaries for all elective offices. The commission fixed the conduct of all party primaries between June 3 and 4, 2022.

“The APC did not conduct its gubernatorial party primary in Akwa Ibom State, which was scheduled to hold on May 26, 2022, at the SheerGrace Arena, 8/10, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo.

“The APC gave due notice of its governorship primaries across the country for May 26, 2022. Akwa Ibom State INEC office received from INEC headquarters the five-man list of the APC Electoral Committee assigned to conduct the governorship primary. The team was headed by one Mr. Tunde Ajibulu, as chairman.

“At 4p.m., the INEC monitoring team, led by the REC, accompanied by members of the lnter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, ICCES, including the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State, moved to the designated venue for the primary (SheerGrace Arena, 8/10, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo) where prior elected wards, LGAs and state delegates were waiting.

“At 10.30p.m., the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Mr. Ajibulu, spoke again on phone with the REC and stated that for safety reasons and the fact that he was traumatised they could no longer leave the DSS office for the venue of the primaries and that all activities be postponed until he gets back to the commission. He never did.

“Consequently, the APC governorship primary in Akwa Ibom State could not hold on May 26, 2022.

“There were false claims that some unknown staff monitors came from the commission’s headquarters that allegedly monitored the governorship primary at 4am. This is not true as no staff of the commission can go to any state to monitor party primaries without a letter of deployment that must be presented for the signature/endorsement of the REC of the state.

“Again, it must be stated clearly that monitors, who come from the commission’s headquarters to monitor party primaries are not secret agents, who sneaked in unnoticed to monitor.”

On senatorial primaries, he said: “In line with Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, the APC notified INEC of its intention to conduct its senatorial primaries across the country, including that of Akwa Ibom State. The date fixed for the primaries, according to the commission’s timetable was May 27, 2022.

“This was communicated to all state offices of the commission by way of a schedule calendar sent to a dedicated whatsapps platform and simultaneously cited by all state offices. It should be noted that two calendars were sent that same day on the platform, both indicated senatorial primary for the same 27th (not 28th). The first calendar was posted on the platform by 8:09p.m., and the second was posted at 11:28p.m. All CTC of these calendars have been issued to interested parties.

“INEC, Akwa Ibom State constituted a five-man monitoring team for each of the three senatorial districts and they all monitored the primaries as scheduled for the three districts on May 27, 2022.

“The five-man INEC monitoring team for Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district duly monitored the primary at the designated venue and submitted its report, which showed clearly that Mr. Udom Ekpoudom had the highest votes (of 338) and was declared the winner as the APC candidate for that senatorial district.

“For Akwa Ibom North-East senatorial district, Dr Ndem Ndem emerged winner of the primary, while for Akwa Ibom South senatorial district, nobody was elected because the primary was not conducted by the party in that district.

“It becomes very strange and highly disturbing that particulars of people completely different from the names that emerged from the peaceful and transparent primaries duly monitored here in Akwa Ibom State were not submitted for publication. While the name of Mr. Ekpoudom was completely omitted, an unknown name surfaced for Akwa Ibom South senatorial district where no primary took place.”

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