The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State situated along Udo Udoma Avenue in Uyo, was, on Sunday June 21, 2015, a beehive of activities despite not being a working day. The offices were invaded by persons believed to be staff of INEC and cohorts working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State on the orders of the corrupt Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the State, Mr. Austin Okojie.
A top INEC source in Uyo, who leaked the information at about 12:00pm on Sunday, revealed that the REC had summoned some staff of INEC including Electoral Officers and adhoc staff to work on Sunday with an instruction that they should doctor the materials which were allegedly used during the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the State. Specifically, the source stated that the REC had directed that the booklets of ballot papers used during the sham election be unbounded and detached into single ballot papers. The exercise according to him commenced at about 9:45 am with the detachment of booklets used for Etim Ekpo Local Government Area (LGA) of the State.
When the information leaked, some supporters of the APC mobilized to the INEC office where they sighted people running out of the premises upon their arrival. Before a team of policemen and DSS operatives arrived the premises the culprits had escaped, reportedly on a tip off by the compromised police officers assigned to the premises. The security operatives who actually confirmed the incident from residents of the area who witnessed the movement of persons within the premises and the escape of the culprits later surrounded the premises.
The source further hinted that the REC and the leadership of the PDP in the State, including former Governor Godswill Akpabio, were seriously embarrassed by the discovery during the abortive inspection exercise by forensic experts engaged by the candidate of the APC Mr. Umana Okon Umana, that rigging through multiple thumb printing was carried out hurriedly and carelessly in bounded booklets of ballot papers. This became clear when it was found that they were produced without first being detached into single/separate ballot papers and that there is no way anyone can explain how different and several voters could have possibly voted in booklets containing about 100 leaflets of ballot papers each.
Another INEC source who corroborated this account told us that it was this very embarrassing discovery made the REC to frustrate the inspection exercise by refusing to cooperate with the forensic experts engaged by the governorship candidate of the APC. It was also the same reason that prompted the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, to continually invade the INEC office with retinue of thugs to disrupt the inspection exercise. Mr. Nwoko is now facing contempt proceedings in the High Court in Uyo.
An APC chieftain in Akwa Ibom State who spoke on the development expressed displeasure over the continued lawlessness and impunity exhibited by the REC and other compromised staff of INEC in the State.
“At the last sitting of the Governorship Election Tribunal for Akwa Ibom State on Thursday June 18, 2015 at the FCT High Court No. 8, Abuja presided over by Hon. Justice A. S. Umar, our lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN had brought a motion for extention of time to carry out and complete the forensic inspection of the materials at the INEC office in Uyo. What they did is in anticipation of another inspection so as to tamper with the massive evidence of fraud which were discovered during the previous inspection exercise,” the Party stalwart said.
SaharaReporters exclusively reported on May 9, 2015 that while official documents obtained from the INEC headquarters in Abuja indicated that the card readers, which were used by INEC show that only 437,128 voters were accredited during the April 11th election. However, the same REC fraudulently awarded the “winner” of the election, Udom Emmanuel of the PDP, 996,071 votes. In similar vein, INEC arbitrarily allocated 89,865 votes to Umana Okon Umana, the governorship candidate of the APC.
Speaking in Uyo on Thursday June 18, 2015, at a post-2015 election retreat for REC, INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega reiterated that only card readers was approved for the governorship elections in the country.”
“We were absolutely sure that for the governorship election, card readers would not be a problem. That was why for the governorship election we instructed that the card readers must be used.
And so, if there is evidence of any place where they just put aside the card readers and use manual accreditation, that election can be examined. I am sure the tribunal will look at the evidence clearly as to what happened,” Jega stated.
The Akwa Ibom State governorship election, which was condemned as a sham by local and international observers, was marred by violence and wide spread rigging. The Election Tribunal for Akwa Ibom State was recently moved to the FCT by the President of the Court of Appeal due to serious security concerns.