By Ogochukwu Isioma
A group, the Akwa-Ibom Integrity Alliance (AIIA), has threatened to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for failing to conclude the re-run election for the House of Representatives seat in Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency of Akwa-Ibom.
METROWATCHXTRA.COM recalls that INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr. Cyril Omorogbe had cancelled the Ikono/Ini supplementary election, held on April 15, following reported incidences of violence.
Omorogbe said the election were cancelled in all the 17 polling units that the rerun took place as a result of obvious electoral offences, ranging from: snatching of electoral materials, including Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS).
However, INEC has failed to conclude the election process in the affected Constituency or announce a new date for a fresh poll with the electoral commission keeping mum on the matter even with just few weeks left for the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly.
Worried that the Constituency may be left without a representative in the imminent 10th Assembly, AIIA insisted that a new date should be urgently fixed for the conclusion of the re-run exercise which was earlier announced for the 17 Units of Ward 11, Itak, Ikono Local Government Area.
The group in a statement in Uyo by its coordinator, Barr Stephen Abia, also called on the Inspector-General of police to urgently investigate and bring to book all culprits involved in the crises that led to the disruption of the April 15 re-run election, and the brutal shooting of a youth corps member who was on electoral assignment during the exercise.
Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), who led in the initial election held on February 25, is alleged to have boasted that he has INEC in his pocket and with or without the re-run, he would be announced the winner.
During the re-run election, some men in military uniform were reported to have invaded some polling units and attacked electoral officers and voters, resulting in the shooting of a youth corps member.
Supporters of the incumbent lawmaker are said to be in a spirited mood, despite the inconclusive election in the constituency.
The 17 polling units in Itak which was the focus of the re-run election with over six thousand votes is believed to be a deciding factor on who could be the next representative for the constituency.
The coordinator of the Akwa-Ibom Integrity Alliance who said he was on electoral monitoring duty as an observer during the election, urged INEC not to just cancel the exercise but to fix a fresh date for the people of the constituency to elect their next representative.
He insisted that if the law enforcement officials do not maintain a “hard stand” against desperate politicians, it would be difficult to end electoral violence in the country.
Barr Abia, however, noted that “it would be unfair to deny the good people of the Itak communities, an opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights, as a result of the inactions of few desperate power mongers.”
The seasoned human rights advocate said the disruption of the April 15 re-run election was deliberately orchestrated to disenfranchise the people, noting that if the police fail to arrest and prosecute those involved, the truth would never be unveiled.
Barr Abia called for adequate security to be provided to restore the confidence of the electorates in INEC and fumed at a situation where the electoral body is seen foot-dragging in the process of conducting the re-run.
“If the electoral body delays in conducting a fresh re-run election, it could only heighten the fears that it is playing hide-and-seek with the candidate fingered to be behind the ugly incident during the last re-run”, Abia argued.