Ahead of next Saturday’s governorship and State Assembly elections, the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Inspector General of Police to immediately redeploy the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Austin Okojie, and the State Commissioner of Police, Gabriel Achong, from the state.
In separate petitions to the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, and IGP, Suleiman Abba, the State Chairman of the party, Amadu Attai, demanded that the two officials be disqualified from conducting the April 11, 2015 elections.
Mr. Attai accused the two officials of being the masterminds of the various electoral frauds and violence that characterized the March 28, 2015 presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
In particular, the APC said Mr. Okojie facilitated the massive rigging and manipulation of the election results in all the 31 local government areas of the state in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party.
On his part, Mr. Achong was accused of involvement in several “unprofessional, criminal and partisan activities” that compromised the integrity of the elections in the state.
According to Mr. Attai, in most polling units across the state, original result sheets were not provided throughout the state, while the police only provided security for allies of the PDP and government in the state.
Without the result sheets, he said, no results were announced and pasted in any of the polling units in the state, while there were no collation of results either at the Ward or Local Government Collation Centres in line with the Electoral Act.
The APC Wards and Local Government Collation Agents, Mr. Attai said, did not witness or participate in the collation of the final results at any of these centres, as these were done in the private residences of PDP and government officials.
“What were declared at the end of polling were manufactured results from the private residences of Commissioners, PDP chieftains and other senior officials with full participation of Electoral Officers and the PDP candidates as well as security agents,” Mr. Attai stated.
Despite the protest to the INEC office against the roles of its officials in the widespread irregularities and fraud, the party said Mr. Okojie had promised not to release the results, only to renege on the promise a few hours later.
To confirm that the results published by Mr. Okojie in the state were fake, fabricated and manufactured, the APC state chairman drew attention to disparities in the summary of results in a number of the senatorial districts in the state.
Specifically, he said a review of the summary of results for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District Election (Code: SD/008/AK) revealed contradictions between the number of accredited voters for the Presidential election and that of the senatorial.
The APC said results announced during the elections were unilaterally allocated figures, particularly in Essien Udim Local Government Area where the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, comes from.
In the local government area, the party said it was strange to note that about 90,053 voters were accredited out of a total 93, 884 registered voters, representing an unprecedented 95.9 per cent turn-out, well above the national average of about 45 per cent.
The party also blamed the fraud in the elections to Mr. Okojie’s decision, on the eve of the election, to replace the names of the ad hoc staff previously selected and trained for the exercise, with persons provided by the state governor.
According to Mr. Attai, whereas the PDP had no candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, it was wrong for Mr. Okojie to have declared Mr. Akpabio as the elected senator for the district, when he was presented as the candidate for Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District.
The party asked the INEC to investigate the allegations and ensure the actions were taken to remedy the situation on Saturday.
On Mr. Achong, the APC said the police commissioner personally led police patrols that accompanied and protected the thugs that carried the mayhem during the elections throughout the state.
“We wish to report that the police were on guard duty during the illegal thumb printing and illegal collation of the faked results at the residences of some government officials,” the APC said in its petition.
Apart from the illegal arrest of over 100 of its supporters across the state by the police, the APC said Mr. Achong had assigned hundreds of police officers to serving commissioners in the state and Mr. Akpabio’s close associates, to provide them cover for the massive rigging during the March 28 elections in the state.
The party also called for a high-powered panel to investigate the activities of the state police commissioner since his deployment to Akwa Ibom State.
When PREMIUM TIMES called Mr. Achong on Saturday for his reaction over the allegations, he refused to comment.
He, however, referred the reporter to those who made the allegations against him.
“Why don’t you talk to those who made the allegations for comment and leave me alone? Did I call you to tell you anything?” Mr. Achong asked angrily, before abruptly terminating the call.
Both the State Commissioner for Information, Aniekan Umanah, and Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Anietie Ukpe, dismissed allegations by the APC as baseless and unfounded.
According to Messrs. Umanah and Ukpe, none of what the opposition party claimed in its petitions have been captured in the series of reports by accredited local, independent and international monitors, including local journalists, who participated in the elections.
Mr. Okojie did not answer the several calls made to him, neither did he respond to the text message to his phone.