The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State yesterday said all materials used for the general elections were safe and ready for inspection by any party who followed laid down procedure for inspection.
The state INEC gave the assurance while refuting allegations by some persons who claimed the commission colluded with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Essien Udium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State to rig election by destroying ballot papers thumb printed in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Reacting to an advertorial titled “Political Jobbers on the prowl,” published in this newspaper on March 16, spokesman for INEC in Akwa Ibom Don Etukudo described the allegation as deliberate falsehood, misinformation and the attempt to malign the commission and the person of the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
Etukudo said INEC’s bus was involved in an accident in which the driver and three others became unconscious while on reverse logistics duty, adding that it was a directive from the commission’s headquarters in order to safeguard electoral materials.
He said: “While the commission does not intend to join issues with anyone or group of persons on the conduct of the just concluded elections as it believes that the nation’s electoral laws have adequately provided due process for complaints, it is however pertinent to address the deliberate falsehood, misinformation and the attempt to malign the commission and the person of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), as contained in the said advertorial.
“The commission refers here to the claim in paragraph 6 of the advert to the effect that its truck which was involved in an accident at Abak on March 12, 2019, was conveying “ballot papers earlier voted in favour of the APC and that they “were being transported to a location near INEC office in Uyo for destruction and subsequent replacement with ballot papers fraudulently thumb printed…”
“This is not true. It is a clear mischief and a lame attempt to hoodwink the reading public and blackmail the commission for insisting on upholding the integrity of the electoral process in Akwa Ibom State.
“On March 12, at about 4pm, the commission’s vehicle which was undertaking reverse logistics from INEC office Eastern Obolo, to the state office got involved in an accident at Oku Abak, a few meters away from the Abak Police Station.
The accident was duly incidental in the Abak Police Station.
“The driver of the vehicle and the other three occupants became unconscious owing to the accident and could not have responded to questions as alleged by the advertorial. The claim that “the driver of the truck on interrogation confessed that was the sixth trip that day shuttling to different PDP stalwart houses…” is therefore unfounded, spurious and mischievous.
“Reverse logistics from LGA offices to state offices was a national directive from the commission’s headquarters to all RECs. It was not peculiar to Akwa lbom State. The exercise is ongoing nationwide. This fact is verifiable.
“In the light of the failed attempts in some LGAs to disrupt elections in Akwa Ibom State by bombing and setting INEC offices and vehicles ablaze (as in Ibesikpo, Obot Akara and Mkpat Enin LGAs, for instance) before, during and after the elections, the directive of the National Headquarters is amply justified.
“In implementing this directive, the commission in Akwa lbom State was careful to rigorously follow the laid down procedure. It duly informed the Commissioner of Police in the state who is also the Chairman of the Inter
Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), a body made up of all security agencies in the state. It was therefore no secret that the commission was retrieving materials used for the elections from the field for safe custody in the state headquarters.
“The commission hereby assures the public that materials used for the 2019 General Elections are safe and open for inspection by any party on application or as may be directed by an appropriate authority,” he said.