UPDATED: Cross River Rerun: Kidnapped INEC official freed, ward election cancelled

Ballot boxes used to illustrate the story.
Ballot boxes used to illustrate the story.

An official of the electoral commission, INEC, was on Saturday kidnapped during a rerun election in Cross River State. He was later released, INEC said in a statement.

The Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO) was kidnapped by gunmen in Afafanyi /Igonigoni Ward in Cross River State during the rerun election in the area. Election materials were also stolen by the gunmen.

INEC has, therefore, cancelled the election in the eight polling units in the ward.

According to the commission, the cancellation was due to the kidnapping of the SPO and hijack of election materials in the rerun elections.

It added that no lives were lost but a police officer sustained injuries

The commission listed items that were stolen to include electoral materials, cash and mobile phones.

“The INEC team led by the supervisory National Commissioner, in charge of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Delta States Dr Mohammed M Lecky reported the incident to the Commissioner of Police Nkereuwem A Akpan who was also in Abi LGA for the elections.

“The kidnapped victim has regained freedom from his abductors without elections materials recovered which include sensitive and non sensitive materials.”

The electoral commission listed the lost items to include: nine smart card readers, 5,616 ballot papers and result sheets. Others are mobile phones and cash from election officials who were basically National Youth Service Corps members.

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“Apart from the policeman that sustained injury, no life was lost,” the statement said.

“However, the commission has cancelled the election in Afafanyi/Igonigoni ward consisting of eight polling units and 5,616 registered voters due to the violence (and) abduction of the SPO, ballot papers, result sheets and smart card readers.

 

“INEC does not reward impunity and violence.”

The, commission, therefore, appealed to the public to exercise patience, “assuring the voters that results from the polling units will reflect in the final collation and declaration of results.”

Separate Violence in Akwa Ibom

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how INEC officials in neighbouring Akwa Ibom state were held hostage inside a public secondary school in Essien Udim, Akwa Ibom, in the rerun elections in the state.

The school – Independent High School, Ukana – is the location for polling unit 9 in Ukana West Ward 2, Essien Udim.

Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, is from the ward.

“In Independent High School, Ukana, poll officials have been taken in, we learnt that there are persons who are either they are fake or real DSS officers and soldiers. The poll officials, their phones have been taken away from them, we can’t reach them and an insider has sent a message to us that what they are doing there they are thumb-printing, they don’t allow the use of card reader in the place,” an INEC official said at about 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.

Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, is from the ward.

Mr Akpabio is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Akwa Ibom senatorial rerun. He is challenging Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party who was declared the winner of the main senatorial election last year until the court ordered a rerun in Essien Udim local government.

Mr Akpabio had announced his withdrawal from the election but INEC rejected the withdrawal saying he remained the candidate of the APC. The minister has dissociated himself from the violence.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story has been edited to reflect the fact that the kidnapping and cancellation of results occurred in Cross River State and not in Akwa Ibom State.


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