International observers, under the aegis of the Pan African Women Project, South Africa, have accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide, Ita Enang, of sponsoring thugs to steal ballot boxes during the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections in Nigeria.
The observers also accused Godswill Akpabio, a former minority leader of Nigeria’s Senate, of electoral crimes, ranging from ballot snatching, doctoring of ballot papers, and assaulting election observers.
The observers made the accusation in a press briefing a few days after the elections (watch video of the briefing beneath the story).
Mr Enang is a special adviser on national assembly matters (Senate) to President Buhari, while Mr Akpabio is a senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West District.
Both men are chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State.
Senator Akpabio, who was seeking re-election for a second term, was defeated at the polls by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Ekpenyong.
But the senator is not giving up, as he continues to lay claim to victory. He has, instead, accused the resident electoral commissioner in Akwa Ibom of bias against the APC and of manipulating ballot figures in favour of his opponent, Mr Ekpenyong.
Apart from the two, the observers also accused a lawmaker in Akwa Ibom, Idongesit Ituen (Itu State Constituency) of ballot stealing.
Mr Ituen is one of the five lawmakers sacked last year from the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly for defecting from the PDP to the APC.
Below is a transcript of the briefing by the spokesperson of the Pan African Women Project, Ms. Mphoentle Keitseng.
At Ward 8, Unit 1, Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, ballot box was snatched in that place by political thugs.
From our investigation and the information we gathered at the polling unit there, Hon Idongesit Ituen masterminded the hijacking of the ballot boxes.
Also, we had an interaction with Hon. Ituen asking about the ballot box snatching, when he told our observers to give him two hours to meet our team, and he never showed up.
Furthermore, after a team from the chief in the community told us that there was thumb-printing going on in the APC office, we traced Idongesit Ituen to the APC office along Calabar-Itu Road.
On reaching the APC office along Calabar-Itu Road, we found men of the Nigerian police heavily armed at the entrance which made it difficult for us to have access.
Unit 12, Ward 2 in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, the polling unit of Senator Ita Enang, our observers report ballot box being snatched there and carted away by hoodlums. After interaction with various party agents at the unit, we gathered that the said senator was instrumental to the ballot snatching.
Godswill Akpabio and his gang of thugs on Sunday took their bestiality to another level when they ambushed and attacked foreign observers who visited the local government, Essien Udim Local Government Area. Video footage from the venue of the collation in Essien Udim showed the accredited observers stopped and barred from accessing the collation venue where Akpabio held the INEC officials hostage for more than five hours.
Having chased away the observers and journalists, Akpabio had a field day doctoring the ballot papers and inflating the results in his favour.
Even though the number of accredited voters in the area was not up to 20,000, Akpabio dubiously allocated 60,000 votes to himself and only allowed 3,000 votes to be in favour of his rival, Chris Ekpenyong.