All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency Supplementary Election scheduled for the 15th day of April, 2023; Mr. Clement Jimbo has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of planning to conduct the said election at ineligible Polling Units.
Jimbo who is already leading with 2,962 votes, made the disclosure at a news conference yesterday. He alleged that INEC was colluding with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) with intent to rig the election.
Texts of the Press Conference read:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
We have invited you to this very important press conference to expose the sinister and illegal efforts to manipulate and rig the forthcoming supplementary election for Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency Election scheduled for the 15th day of April, 2023.
As the House of Representatives Candidate for the election, myself and my political party (the APC) participated in the Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency Election which took place across the said constituency on the 25th day of February, 2023. At the end of the election, I scored majority of the lawful votes cast with a margin of lead of 2,962 votes.
However, the Commission did not declare and return me elected, but declared the said constituency election inconclusive without offering any satisfactory reason; save for the fact that elections in some Polling Units in the constituency were cancelled by the Commission.
Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency has a total of 386 Polling Units, 31 Registration Areas (Wards) and 3 Local Government Areas (Abak, Etim Ekpo and Ika).
A list published on the Commission’s website, indicates that the Commission is planning to hold supplementary election for the federal constituency in 25 polling units.
We are minded to alert the public of ongoing devious efforts by compromised elements within the Commission, acting in collaboration with some corrupt leaders and interested persons within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, to engage in dubious, sinister and illegal efforts and actions which are geared towards manipulating the forthcoming supplementary election in our federal constituency, with the singular agenda of concocting inflated, fraudulent and fictional figures and votes in order to suppress, surpass and undermine the existing wide margin of 2,962 in favour of the APC and give the PDP the leeway to steal the election.
As part of this fraudulent scheme, a plan has been hatched by some officials of the Commission, acting in concert with their sponsors in the PDP, to illegally increase the number of polling units where supplementary election is to hold in the federal constituency. This fraudulent scheme has now been substantiated by a worrisome publication on the Commission’s website to the effect that the April 15, 2023 supplementary election for Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency will be held in 25 polling units.
We have undertaken a rigorous verification and investigation of the listed 25 polling units as published by the Commission. We found to our chagrin, that the Commission has not offered cogent and verifiable reasons, on the basis for isolating the said 25 polling units for supplementary election.
Our fears have been further confirmed by the fact that some of the polling units listed in the publication were added arbitrarily, despite that election took place in the units and votes were scored, counted, recorded, declared, signed by agents of various political parties and even transmitted to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
For example, polling unit results (Form EC8A(II) for Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency held on February 25, 2023 in 4 out of the 25 polling units which have been listed by the Commission for the April 15, 2023 supplementary election, were uploaded on the IReV.
The 4 units in question are as follows:
1) Abak LGA – Abak Urban III, Primary School, Oku Abak
2) Ika LGA – Odoro 1, Village Square, Ikot Onono
3) Ika LGA – Odoro 1, Nto Ukpong Ntia
4) Etim Ekpo LGA – Etim Ekpo V, Primary School, Nto Edet
Out of the 25 listed polling units, Form EC40G (Record of Election not held/Cancelled at Polling Unit Level) was filled and uploaded on the IReV in only 14 polling units documenting the reasons why election did not take place or was cancelled in the said 14 units (elections disrupted).
In 4 polling units, results were not uploaded and no reason whatsoever has been offered in respect of the 4 units. Neither Form EC8A (II) nor EC40G were uploaded on the IReV in these units, namely:
- Etim Ekpo LGA – Etim Ekpo III, Secondary School, Etok Uruk Eshiet;
- Etim Ekpo LGA – Etim Ekpo III, Village Hall, Etok Uruk Eshiet;
- Etim Ekpo LGA – Etim Ekpo III. Village Hall, Ikot Nkim, Utu Clan;
- Etim Ekpo VII – Primary School, Obio Nung Achat.
A breakdown of the totality of facts derivable and verifiable from the IReV on the status of the 25 polling units that the Commission is seeking conduct supplementary elections is as follows:
Polling units where elections took place and Form EC8A (II) uploaded: 4
Polling units where Form EC40G/disruptions were recorded: 14
Polling units with no results or reported disruptions or cancellations: 4
Polling units where officials and materials were not deployed: 1
Polling units with ineligible handwritten notes uploaded on IReV: 2
The power of the Commission to declare election inconclusive or hold a supplementary election, is as provided for in Section 24 (3) of the Electoral Act 2022 which states as follows:
“Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that there is or has been substantial disruption of election in a polling unit or constituency or it is impossible to continue with the election occasioned by threat to peace and security of electoral officials and materials, the Commission shall suspend the election and appoint another date for the continuation of the election or the process.”
From the above provisions of the Electoral Act, it is clear that the plan to hold supplementary election in polling units where election took place or where the process was concluded or where no reason has been given for supplementary elections in Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency, is not only sinister and illegal, but part of a well-orchestrated scheme by compromised officials within the Commission to manipulate the election in favour of the PDP.
The belief of those behind this evil scheme, is that the more polling units they illegally conscript into the supplementary election, the better their chances of upending my electoral fortunes became I am leading with 2,962 votes.
We have been reliably informed of a plan to compromise the integrity of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) across the polling units where the supplementary election is to take place. The gravamen of this scheme, based on information available to us, is to preload BVAS machines in at least three polling units with higher number of registered voters to aid in the rigging of the election.
We are also aware of plans to bribe key officials of the Commission, particularly Presiding Officers (POs), Electoral Officers (EOs), Collation Officers and the Returning Officer, who will take part in the supplementary election in the federal constituency.
We are equally aware of several high level meetings that have been held by interested persons within the PDP to strategize on how to militarize the supplementary election though heavy deployment of political thugs and fake policemen and fake soldiers.
Given the gravity of these issues, we are impelled to officially notify the Commission and the public of these sinister and dubious plans which are geared towards tarnishing the image of the Commission and rigging the April 15, 2023 supplementary election in our constituency.
We call on the INEC Chairman and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State to take these issues seriously, and implement urgent proactive measures to truncate the devious and illegal plans highlighted in this petition. More specifically, we ask that the Commission should do the following:
- Review the number of polling units where the supplementary election is expected to take place in line with the dictates of Section 24 of the Electoral Act 2022. Polling units where elections had taken place and results already uploaded on IReV should be excluded. Copies of Form EC8A (II) uploaded on IReV for 4 of such polling units which we have identified among the 25 polling units will be made available to the media.
- We demand for the removal and replacement of the Electoral Officer (EO) of Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, Mr Edet Eyo Effiong. There are troubling indications that the neutrality of the said EO has been undermined. His conduct during the February 15, 2023 election shows that he has been compromised and should not be allowed to take part in the supplementary election.
- We call on INEC to examine all BVAS machines intended to be used for the supplementary election in the constituency to ensure that the integrity and default components of the BVAS have not been compromised.
- INEC should also put in place stringent measures to ensure that the integrity of the supplementary election, and the neutrality and safety of the INEC officials who will be deployed for the supplementary election in the constituency, are guaranteed.
- The Commission should reiterate to Presiding officers who will participate in the supplementary election, the necessity of uploading, transferring or transmitting the results on the IReV in real time.
We hereby call on security agencies to ensure that the forces of evil, election riggers and corrupt elements who are planning to sabotage and militarize the April 15, 2023 supplementary election are decisively dealt with and their plans thwarted.
The Police and other security agencies should guarantee the safety of the officials of INEC and voters during the supplementary election.
We call on our teeming supporters to come out and exercise their franchise and resist intimidation and monetary inducement by dubious vote buyers. The will of the people of Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency must prevail.
God bless Abak/ Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency!
God bless Akwa Ibom State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
APC House of Representative Candidate
Abak/Etim Ekpo/ Ika Federal Constituency
5th April, 2023