The Independent National Electoral Commission in Akwa Ibom State has been fingered over attempts to cover up the electoral fraud perpetrated by them in collusion with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the last general elections.
Findings at the Commission’s office in Uyo showed desperate moves by top officials of INEC to smuggle in mass thumb printed ballot papers to replace the original that were used in the elections.
On April 02, 2019, the National Assembly Elections Tribunal granted the All Progressives Congress and its candidates an order authorizing the inspection of election materials collated and stored at the Akwa Ibom State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But, INEC, despite pleas and other efforts by lawyers representing the APC and in brazen contempt of the Court, refused to obey the order until April 23, 2019 when it finally succumbed to pressures.
The ongoing inspection process is not without much drama, The Commission is not altogether transparent and is sparing no effort at frustrating and stalling the inspection process Not only is INEC deliberate in tardiness, poor records and materials keeping, and in unleashing other frustrating schemes, it was caught attempting to smuggle bags of questionable election materials into the inspection process.
Findings by a team of forensic inspectors revealed that on Wednesday, April 23, 2019, two days into the inspection process, INEC realized that only a handful of ballot materials for Ikono and nothing for Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas were available in the INEC strongroom to be sorted out for inspections by lawyers representing the APC.
Overnight, the grossly dishonorable and unscrupulous umpire resorted to smuggling in several bags full of ballot materials believed to have been freshly thumb printed or falsified in favor of the PDP candidates in Ikono Local Government Area. It was caught red handed and, of course, the vigilant team of lawyers refused to inspect the questionable ballot materials that are now carelessly dumped near a staircase in the INEC office building.
Meanwhile, ballot materials for National Assembly, governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area are missing in the INEC strongroom. Since two months after elections exercise, they were never taken to the strongroom for safe keeping as required. Curious minds are alert and watching to see how INEC will manufacture fresh ballot materials that numerically correspond to already documented and announced results. It is alleged that in collaboration with some PDP officials, INEC is frantically working to stuff more bags with questionable materials.
All through the 2019 elections season and up to this moment, the Akwa Ibom State INEC, led by Mr. Mike Igini, is notoriously seen and known to be in collusion with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for massive electoral malpractices. Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, is openly revered and celebrated by PDP supporters as their elections yeoman who colluded with the PDP to massively rig elections in favor of its candidates.
The Commission cares little about its bad image and does not hide its strong bias against the All Progressives Congress.
To concerned Akwa Ibom citizens and to lawyers representing APC candidates at the Tribunals, frustrating the inspection of materials process and attempting to stall other legal processes were anticipated, but not with the temerity, craftiness and criminal bents now demonstrated by the biased.
Akwa Ibom State INEC, driven by over zealousness and extreme bias during the 2019 elections season, now appears desperate in its post elections schemes to cover up a lot of malpractices and other improprieties.
If officials of the Akwa Ibom State INEC are transparent and unbiased, there will be no agenda developed to frustrate, obstruct and pervert judicial processes. It can be recalled that the APC has severally and unsuccessfully petitioned against impeachable conducts of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini. It remains to be explained why INEC headquarters in Abuja has turned deaf ears to all petitions against that enfant terrible who has ruined the Commission’s reputation in Akwa Ibom State.
By Frank Umoh
April 26, 2019