Barely 72 hours to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom on Tuesday petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission alleging a grand plot by the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, and the Peoples Democratic Party to rig the polls.
In the petition, signed by State Chairman of the party, Amadu Attai, the APC accused the governor and PDP of planning to co-opt various institutions of state and their officials to falsify and announce phantom figure of the election results to subvert the people’s will in favour of the PDP.
Copies of the petition were sent to the Presidency, National Security Adviser, Inspector General of Police, Director General, Department of State Security ad his counterpart in the National Youth Service Corps. The attention of all parents of serving corps members in the state was also drawn to the petition, urging them to warn their wards.
“Governor Akpabio has perfected a well-oiled plan to use the ad-hoc staff of INEC recruited from the NYSC to rig the elections,” Mr. Attai said.
“The plan is for the ad-hoc staff, armed with smart phones, to text the number of accredited voters at each polling unit to a situation room in Government House in Uyo where government officials will thumb print the ballot and fill out the collation sheets and the final result sheets for the elections,” he stated.
Part of the plan, the APC said, would involve the PDP fraudulently obtaining sensitive election materials, like collation and final result sheets, for use in executing the rigging plot outside the accredited INEC collation and polling centres.
Once the accredited number of voters has been sent to Government House, the party said, assigned government operatives would get to work with the plot, by fraudulently allocating votes randomly to the political parties, with the highest allocation to the PDP candidates. The final manipulated results, the APC said, would be given to INEC officials who will be compelled to announce.
The APC said Mr. Akpabio, who has already illegally procured authentic INEC sensitive election materials for use in the rigging plot, met with most “members of the NYSC deployed to the state on Monday night in Government House, Uyo, where modalities on how to carry out the assignment were discussed.
Also alleging plan to compromise the State Resident Electoral Commissioner as part of the plot, the party expressed concern that the INEC officials would not be able to function as an impartial umpire in the coming elections.
Besides, the party said the governor and the PDP also has a back-up plan, involving the use of government paid drivers operating buses branded in the colours of the state-owned transport company to convey fake election materials, including thumb-printed ballot papers.
The intention, the APC stated, would be to swap the fake for genuine election materials at the polling centres with the help of their recruited allies dressed like INEC ad hoc staff and some PDP and government operatives impersonating INEC officials.
The branded state transport company buses, the APC said, would also be used to transport PDP thugs trained by the state government and dressed in fake army and police uniforms, to be deployed ostensibly for election duties.
“The fake security agents are to be used to perpetrate election violence, such as assassination and kidnapping,” the APC said.
To ensure peaceful polls and the protection of the integrity of the elections in the state, the APC asked the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, and the Presidency to immediately redeploy the INEC ad-hoc staff recruited from the NYSC.
The party also asked the relevant security agencies to call Mr. Akpabio, PDP and their agents to order “to avoid further bloodshed in Akwa Ibom State.”
The party called on the European Union, Commonwealth and other International Elections Observer Groups, to take special interest in Akwa Ibom and ensure that their presence was felt during the general elections in the state.
But, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Anietie Ukpe, dismissed the allegations as “shocking and simply unthinkable”. He said shortly after his return to the state on Monday, the governor went straight to pay a condolence visit to the family of the late politician, Okon Uwah, the APC State House of Assembly candidate for Ukanafun Local Government, who was assassinated on March 18, 2015.
“The governor neither met nor held any meeting with any official or NYSC members to plot how to rig the forthcoming election,” he said.
Though the governor’s spokesperson promised to send a formal statement on the governor’s reaction to the allegations, no such statement was received before going to press. Subsequent call to his phone were not answered.
The State Commissioners of Police, Gabriel Achong, said he was not aware of any plot either by the governor or any of his subjects to use the police to foment trouble during the elections.
Mr. Achong said the police in the state had no reason to work with anybody against the interest of any of the political parties. “I have a good working relationship with all the leaders of the political parties in the state. I will get in touch with them over the petition,” he said.