Gov. Akpabio, ex-Gov. Attah clash over “irregularities” in Akwa Ibom polls

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Former Governor Godswill Akpabio

The Akwa Ibom Governor, Godswill Akpabio, has dismissed calls for the cancellation of the governorship and the State House of Assembly elections in the state.

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Umanah Umanah had called for the cancellation of the governorship and the State House of Assembly elections.

Mr. Umanah spoke after former Governor Victor Attah spoke to Channels TV complaining about widespread irregularities in the elections.

Messrs. Attah and Umanah had, while speaking with the television station, declared that the conduct of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the 31 Local Government Areas in the state was marred by massive irregularities, widespread incidents of violence, hijack of election materials and attack on election officials masterminded by agents of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

For the former governor, there was no election in any part of the state, citing his personal experience in his polling booth in Unit 9, 10 and 11 in Ibesikpo area in Uyo Local Government Area.

According to the former governor, who spoke in a phone-in television programme on the elections, no election was held in his polling unit where he registered and turned up to vote, as there were neither INEC officials nor election materials in sight for the exercise.

At his polling unit, the former governor said he, like all other people who turned up to perform their civic duties, had to go home disappointed after waiting for hours for INEC officials to show up with the materials.

He said after a long wait, the people had to disperse, only for the officials to show up with the report that they took refuge in a nearby bush in the area after they were waylaid by armed hoodlums and the voting materials forcefully hijacked at gun point and taken away.

Mr. Attah said every person he had spoken to about the experience had the same story.

Mr. Umanah, who also called in to speak during the programme, corroborated the former governor’s allegations, describing the election in the state as a sham.

According to Mr. Umanah despite being a candidate in the election, he and most of his supporters across the state were unable to vote, as there were reports of widespread hijack of election materials and attack by armed agents of the PDP.

Mr. Umanah said he also spoke with other political leaders across all the Senatorial districts in the state, including the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Don Etiebet and Imeh Umanah, who confirmed similar incidents of materials hijack and attack on INEC officials in their respective areas.

He said based on the consensus among the leaders in the state that the entire exercise was marred by irregularities and violence, the APC in the state had no option than to demand for the immediate cancellation of the elections in the state by the INEC.

However, in his reaction, the State governor, Godswill Akpabio, who also called in, dismissed claims of massive irregularities and violence in the election in Akwa Ibom as false.

According to him allegations by his predecessor and the candidate of the APC were mere fabrications from a prepared script by the opposition party in the states to deceive the people and cause confusion.

He said reports from all parts of the state from those who monitored the elections gave accounts that the exercise went on peacefully and orderly throughout the state, without any incidents, except two.

“Even if elections were held in Akwa Ibom for 10 times, it will be difficult for anybody to defeat the PDP,” the governor boasted. “As far as the PDP was concerned, everything was perfect, peaceful and orderly, except two skirmishes reported in one or two places.”

But the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East in the National Assembly, Ita Enang, who was also in the state to participate in the exercise, said there were no elections anywhere in his constituency in Ibiono Ibom Local Government.

According to Mr. Enang, as early as 9 a.m., while the people in his polling unit at Ikot Akpan Nya Ididep in Ibiono were waiting for accreditation to commence, armed PDP agents stormed the area and carted away all electoral materials, leaving only the photocopies of the result sheets.

He said the situation was so bad that in all other polling units in the area, the women were so frustrated that they had to defy the security and organize a protest march to the INEC office in the area.


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