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Saturday, October 1, 2022

APC House of Reps Candidate In Akwa Ibom Eseme Eyiboh Commends INEC Over Electoral System

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Eseme Eyiboh, the candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform in Akwa Ibom, says the Independent National Electoral Commission  -INEC has done a very good job in improving the electoral system, but it is not enough.

He said their officers should detach their personal opinions and feelings from the institution.

Eyiboh, who is trying to represent Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno constituency in the House of Representatives, made his views known during a media parley in Uyo. “As a political party, we will have conflicts here and there. So now we try to use a range of conflict management strategies and talk to party members and we are fortunate to have some very strong personalities at APC in Akwa Ibom.

He said the position of State Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, does not reflect the impartiality expected by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“On the question of the governorship, then, the APC said that it has no candidate who is not right. Our candidate for governor, Akanimo Udofia, has been the most celebrated lately. ”
Igini had stated in a report presented to INEC that the party does not have a candidate for governor, according to the primaries supervised by electoral officials. The development took place in the midst of a leadership crisis, which had spawned two groups of executives: one led by Stephen Ntukekpo and the other by Augustine Ekanem.

The executives led by Ntukekpo are said to be loyal to Godswill Akpabio, a former minister of affairs of the Niger Delta, while that of Ekanem would be supported by John Akpanudoedehe, former secretary of the care committee of the APC.

Meanwhile, in March 2022, an Abuja Supreme Court dismissed the Ekanem-led officials, calling their election an “illegal” result.

also read: All Progressives Congress Suspends Austin Ekanem, Nkereuwem Enyongekere For Anti-Party Activities

Taiwo Taiwo , the presiding judge, had also ordered the INEC to recognize the leaders led by Ntukekpo, calling them duly elected party officials in Akwa Ibom.

In the report, Igini had said that a gubernatorial primary was to be held at Sheergrace Arena in Uyo, but the exercise did not take place, adding that he was later informed that another primary, led by the Ntukepo-led organized by faction took place at a different location.

In another development, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who contested the APC presidential ticket but later resigned for Bola Tinubu, won the  Akwa Ibom North West’s Senatorial ticket in an APC-hosted primary on June 9. The exercise which saw Akpabio win the senatorial ticket followed the withdrawal of Ekperikpe Ekpo, who had won an earlier primary that was later cancelled by the party.

However, the Akwa Ibom REC had insisted that INEC officials did not monitor any primary outside the one conducted on May 27, which was won by Udom Ekpoudom, a former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG).

Meanwhile, the INEC has published the names of the candidates elected in the primaries organized by the executives led by Ntukekpo. But Akpabio’s name was not listed as a candidate for the 2023 elections, even though the APC had submitted his name to the electoral commission for Akwa Ibom north-west.

Speaking of primary issues and concerns about Igini’s position on exercise, Eyiboh said personal feelings shouldn’t affect the activities of an organization like INEC.

He also shared a letter dated June 21, 2022, addressed by INEC to the APC, stating that the electoral body, in accordance with the ruling of a federal supreme court, recognizes Ntukekpo as party president in Akwa Ibom.

“The Commission would like to formally draw your attention to the existing ruling/order of the Federal Supreme Court, Abuja (Case No .: FHC / ABJ / CS / 1635/2021), which Hon. Obong Stephen Leo Ntukekpo as president of the APC in Akwa Ibom “, reads the letter, signed by Rose Oriarah-Anthony.

“This is to establish that the committee adheres to the content of the verdict”. Eibach also shared other correspondence documents with INEC and the party, adding that the case against the Ntukekpo leadership was settled by the appellate court.

However, he expressed reservations about Igini’s position on the previous primary, adding that such comments go against what the commission should represent in terms of impartiality. “Twenty-one days’ notice is the legal obligation for all political parties to notify INEC of its primaries. And all parties, including APC, have notified INEC that its primaries will be held across the country, including Akwa Ibom.

So, the state chairman of the party, who is Ntukekpo, wrote to INEC informing INEC of the venue, date of the conduct of the governorship, senate, house of reps, and state house of assembly primaries in full compliance with the electoral act,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of INEC as an institution to initiate its administrative procedures as soon as the notification is made. It does not necessarily have to be the resident electoral commissioner. But the law requires the political party to give 21 days of the legal notice.
“So the question is this. Has the political party issued this 21-day notice period? Have they informed INEC of the place, time, and date? The answer is yes. Whose responsibility is it to send observers to that place? It is the responsibility of the INEC. And if the INEC refuses to send its staff there, can a political party be punished for the absence of the INEC? The answer is no.”

However, INEC has asked candidates like Akpabio, whose names are missing, to seek redress in court.
On Igini’s position on the conduct of the primary in the state, Eyiboh said that INEC must do better to improve the electoral process.

“Not only did he act ultra vires, but he ignored his mandate as a public servant. He behaved in a way that suggests he is not a representative of an INEC, which is supposed to be impartial,” he added.
“What does Igini do, can he perform his public duties and use his personality to represent INEC in cases beyond his control? We do not promote ethical values and institutional integrity. It is as if we were promoting a personal conflict.
Eyiboh said while he was not speaking on behalf of Akpabio or the party, he was worried because anything that influences the party influences him as a candidate. “We should be able to raise the stakes of our electoral values, institutional integrity, and social democratic values by trying to detach individuals from institutions,” he said.
“As for the governorship seat, when Igini said the APC has no candidates, that’s not true.

Our governorship candidate is Akanimo Udofia who has been the most celebrated lately. ”


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