…Explains why new law can’t allow Akpabio substitute DIG Ekpoudom
Politicians desirous of contesting the 2023 general elections have been advised to meticulously study the new provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act as Amended so as not to continue with the hope that things are still the way it was with the repealed 2010 and 2012 Electoral Act.
Akwa Ibom State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barr Mike Igini, stated this in a telephone radio interview monitored in Uyo.
According to Barr Igini, the rumoured emergence of former Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio as the APC Senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District) is noting but a Nollywood fantasy because by virtue of the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act, substitution of candidates by political parties is no longer permitted under the Electoral Act.
“By virtue of Section 31 of the 2022 Electoral Act, the only way somebody can be replaced in any form is that we no longer have substitution by political party. What you have now is withdrawal by individual or nominee and or death. The law is not saying you should go and kill people so that you can have yourself on the ballot. No. The law is saying that those who have emerged at all levels up to the presidential level, you can decide that you are no longer interested. You can write an application signed by yourself, delivered to your party who will now deliver to INEC but nobody can shave the political head of another person in his or her absence”.
“The report of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District APC primary as submitted to INEC headquarters in Abuja is final. It is concluded. The train has left the station. The timeline is clear. All those who are in politics should go and study the 2022 Electoral Act very well. I hear people taking about substitution. If you look Section 31 and Section 34 of the Electoral Act, those of you who are still carrying the old idea of the 2010, 2012 Electoral Act in your head, thinking you can substitute willfully, it is no longer so”.
Continuing, he said, “Then number two is only in the case of death. Even at that, there will now be a fresh primary. This is the new law. So what we are seeing going on is clearly a misnormer. The rerun can only be conducted between and among those who participated in the first Senatorial election of May 27, 2022 and the Senatorial primary for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District was not canceled, was not nullified, was not inconclusive. It was conclusive, it was concluded and the report was written and it is final because you cannot reopen that anymore”, he declared.
The Akwa Ibom INEC REC said the rumour of a new rerun Senatorial primary for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District is strange and unknown to law as it was never monitored by INEC. He explained that after the primary, the commission wrote it’s report to Abuja as was requested where it stated clearly that the APC in the state did not hold her Gubernatorial primary.
He explained that on the 27th of May, 2022, the APC Senatorial primary held in only two out of the three Senatorial districts of the state; Akwa Ibom North West and Akwa Ibom North East while nobody showed up at the venue for the Akwa Ibom South Senatorial primary.
“Out of the three Senatorial districts, we had election conducted in two, the North West and North East Senatorial districts where DIG Udom Ekpoudom emerged as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we wrote our report. Interestingly, the Head of INEC’s Legal Team in Akwa Ibom State was the one who led the team for that of Akwa Ibom North West and they wrote the report and the report had been concluded on the 27th of May, 2022”.
Barr Igini said the clarification became necessary in view of mischief makers trying to bring INEC’s name to controversy and calling him names so as to demonize him for doing his job in line with the rule of law.
He stated that NEC does not conduct party primary, be it presidential, gubernatorial, Senatorial, House of Representatives etc. “All we do is just one percent. That one percent can be decisive in the sense that we cannot see something to be white in the morning and then in the afternoon it is black. Such a day will never happen in our lifetime in the service of our country”.
In his words, “the Senatorial election primary was concluded on the 27th of May and the report had been kept there (Abuja) since. On Thursday, June 9, 2022, we were in Abuja holding a meeting at INEC headquarters on how to deal with the current situation about voter registration and the good news is that I have brought more machines to Akwa Ibom”.
“By 7pm, I got information that the APC will send a letter that they want to do a rerun Senatorial election and that was shocking to the Commission. Abuja was surprised, we were surprised. A rerun election? First and foremost, a rerun has a technical meaning in election management. A rerun means that election was either cancelled, was inconclusive and you have to do a rerun. And in any rerun, it must be between those who were part of the first election”.
“The question is, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was he an aspirant on the list on the 27th when election for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District was conducted? He was not there. We all know that he has been a presidential aspirant up to the last day of the APC convention in Abuja. That was what he participated in”.
“To now say that an individual will conduct a primary for himself, by himself, won by himself, Oh my God! We are ridiculing our democracy. We are showing to the world that we don’t have a system. We are showing that we are a permissive society, that indeed the rule of law means nothing in our country. As at the time INEC report was written, Godswill Akpabio was not an aspirant. We didn’t write a report because of Akpabio as some people are just talking nonsense”, he declared.