A’Ibom state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo Wednesday 17th July 2019 heard a string of testimonies from witnesses to the Petitioner that revealed how the 2019 governorship election was manipulated and rigged in favour of the PDP.
The APC candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere is challenging the decision by INEC to declare Deacon Udom Emmaneul winner in an election widely condemned as flawed. As expected, case was mentioned and counsels duly announced their respective representations as in the past save for the lead counsel to the Petitioner, J. S. Okutepa (SAN) who had Veteran Faotu (Esq.) stand in his stead.
At the Tribunal today, lead Counsel to the Petitioner, Veteran Faotu called altogether 10 witnesses who one after the other gave graphic testimonies of what transpired in their respective polling units and wards during the election. The witnesses who came from different local governments areas across the state including; Urue Offong/Oruko, Nsit Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, Nsit Ubiom, Obot Akara, Essien Udim, Mbo, Ini and Ibiono Ibom all narrated how strange acts and omission alien to the guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 general elections were introduced into the conduct of the election by INEC staff in collaboration with PDP Agents and Party stalwarts.
Common to their testaments was the incidence of (1) no voting at all in many polling units arising from hijack and evacuation of voting materials alongside INEC ad-hoc staff by militants and thugs loyal to the PDP. (2) Disruption of the voting exercise by persons loyal to the PDP where APC was in a clear lead thereby forestalling sorting and counting of ballots at the polling unit. (3) where voting was done at all, failure to announce polling unit results as prescribed and enter same in the designated form – EC8A. (4) Failure to collate unit results at designated ward collation centres as prescribed and instead proceeding to do same at the local government collation centre contrary to the 2019 Electoral guidelines. (5) Vote buying as voters were made to hold-up their ballot for sighting before being paid by PDP Agents (6) Denial of access and non-admission of APC ward collation Agents at the local government collation centre with the use of armed uniform men. (7) Results were concocted and allocated in favour of PDP in collusion with INEC officials and PDP Agents and entered into Form EC8B purporting same to be official results collated in each local government. These and many other forms of election infractions were narrated by the witnesses to the Tribunal.
Of the 10 witness testimonies heard by the Tribunal today, 3 are outstanding and goes to illustrate the desperation to win election and stay in power by agents of the PDP. In his testimony, Petitioner’s witness PW29 revealed how Dr. Emmanuel Ekeuwem, SSG submitted fake result to INEC officials for announcement as official result for Akprankpran polling unit in Uda ward 1 of Mbo LGA. PW29 reported that there was a fracas at the polling unit following contentions caused by disputes in connection with the manner INEC officials were conducting election in the unit. He said election materials were scattered and destroyed. There was no sorting nor counting of results at the polling unit. Results were also not collated at the ward collation centre nor entered into Form EC8A as directed by INEC. However, the SSG in collusion with unscrupulous INEC officials concocted figures that he influenced the INEC Returning officer for Mbo to announce as the official result in favour of PDP.
Another Petitioner’s witness PW22 gave a testament of threat to his life by Hon. Asukwo Archibong. He told the Tribunal that Hon. Asukwo Archibong threatened to kill him and his spouse if they should dare to come out and vote in his polling unit 002 of Edok, Oruko in UrueOffong/Oruko LGA. The witness told the Tribunal that the House member representing Urue Offong/Oruko state constituency otherwise known as poison was the PDP candidate and a deadly human being. He said poison issued the threat to him on phone which he reported to the Police. He said, “my Lord, not only did he threaten to kill me and my wife, he paid and caused the village town crier to announce that anyone who came out on the governorship/House of Assembly election day (March 9th2019) to vote for APC shall be severely dealt with. This scared prospective voters and supporters of APC from coming out to vote. As a result, the polling unit recorded low voter turnout because poison is known in the community as a dangerous man capable of carrying out his threat. There was no voting my Lord, no results were sorted nor collated in my unit. The result announced for my unit by INEC has no bearing with the election guidelines for 2019 issued by INEC”.
The testimony of PW30 who is from Ikot Awa, Ukwok in Ini LGA was shocking as he gave a graphic illustration of how election was rigged in Ukwok ward 9. The witness who was a ward collation Agent for APC told the Tribunal that a serving commissioner from Ini Local Government engaged militants and thugs who invaded polling units in ward 9 and forcefully carted away election materials with INEC ad-hoc staff to her residence at Ikpe Nkon village where they undertook massive tump printing and wrote results in favour of the PDP. He told the Tribunal that the residence of the commissioner was made a fortress and impregnable to unwanted persons by armed militants in her payroll. The witness further submitted to the Tribunal that there was no election, properly speaking in Ini LGA.
These testimonies unveiled by witnesses at the Tribunal clearly demonstrates the crude tactics, dishonestly and theft of the peoples mandate under the camouflage and guise of Only God. Akwa Ibom deserves better.
Tribunal adjourned to Thursday, 18th July 2019