A group, the Akwa Ibom Integrity Alliance, has threatened to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for failing to conclude the re-run elections for the House of Representatives seat in Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency.
A statement by the group’s Coordinator, Barr Stephen Abia, Friday, in Uyo , also called on the Inspector General of Police to urgently investigate and bring to book all culprits involved in the crises that led to the disruption of the April 15 rerun elections, and the brutal shooting of a youth corps member who was on electoral assignments during the exercise.
The group insisted that a new date should be urgently fixed for the conclusion of the supplementary exercise which was earlier earmarked for the 17 units of Ward 11, Itak, Ikono Local Government Area.
INEC, had cancelled the Supplementary election of Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency held on Saturday, April 15 following the sudden violent attacks by thugs who prevented the electoral officers from concluding the exercise which had hitherto been held peacefully.
Announcing the cancellation, the Resident Electoral Commissioner; Cyril Omoregbe, who briefed collation officers in his office, said the election stands cancelled following reports of violence that marred the process.
Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo of the YPP who led in the initial election held on February 25, 2023 had bragged that with or without the rerun, he would be announced the winner.
During the rerun, alleged fake army men invaded some polling units and attacked electoral officers and voters, resulting in the shooting of a youth corps member.
Supporters of the incumbent representative Hon. Ukpong-Udo are said to be in a spirited mood, despite the inconclusive election in the constituency.
The 17 polling units in Itak which was the focus of the bye-election with over six thousand votes is poised to be a deciding factor on who could be the next representative for the constituency.
Abia who said he was on electoral monitoring duties as an observer during the elections urged INEC not to just cancel the elections but to fix a fresh date for the people of the area to vote their chosen candidate.
He insisted that if law enforcement officials do not maintain a hard stand against desperate politicians, it would be difficult to end electoral violence in the country.
Abia however noted that “it would be unfair to deny the good people of the Itak communities, an opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights, as a result of the inactions of few desperate power mongers.”
The seasoned human rights advocate posited that the disruption of the April 15 rerun election was deliberately orchestrated to disenfranchise the people, and added that if the police fail to arrest and prosecute those involved, the truth would never be unveiled.
Barr Abia wanted adequate security to be provided to restore the confidence of the electorates in the electoral body and fumed at a situation where the electoral umpire is seen foot-dragging in the process of conducting the rerun.
“If the electoral body delays in conducting a rerun election, it could only heighten the fears that it is playing hide and seek with the candidate, fingered behind the ugly incident during the rerun”, Abia added.