A group, Credible Elections Watch, has expressed concerns over what it called the unprofessional activities of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini.
The group through its leader, Moses Etim, in a statement said that for the forthcoming elections to be credible in the state, the umpire, which is the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) must be neutral.
In a statement issued in Uyo yesterday, Etim maintained that people of the state, including the opposition parties do not have confidence in Mr Igini and do not think that with his activities, he could preside over free and fair polls.
He alleged that Mr Igini’s recent activities are indicative that he may be supporting a particular party to the detriment of others in the state.
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“Only recently, Mr Igini made some changes which were not only unnecessary but capable of derailing the process in the state. We want the changes overturned and the matter investigated. Aside that Mr Igini has consistently made things difficult for the opposition in the state. As stakeholders in the electoral process, we are worried of this development and of the view that the matter be addressed immediately.
“The government at the center has promised free and fair elections, but with what is happening in the state, we doubt if that will be possible if things are not changed. The credibility of the forthcoming elections is very important and nothing must be left to chance. We also want INEC to sound a note of warning to all its personnel to ensure that they remain neutral all through the electoral process,” he said.
The group emphasised the need for a level playing field for all parties in the election, saying that is the only way the forthcoming exercise can be termed credible.
“We want a situation where the votes of Akwa ibomites will count. It will be really sad if the people of the state come out en masse, cast their votes and yet are denied their wishes.
“We therefore call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to beam its search light on Akwa Ibom State, to ensure that its personnel are not violating the code of conduct and when it observes any infractions, we urge the commission to take urgent action”, he said.
Etim alleged that feelers in the state suggest that the main opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is planning to use the INEC to rig the elections.
“Some persons in the state have been boasting that they have nothing to worry about and that once it is time for the elections, they would use INEC officials to rig it in their favour. Now, whether this is true or not, we cannot take chances.
“We are raising the alarm now so that desperate persons do not engage in actions that would cause havoc in the state. We implore INEC to take complaints such as this seriously and it is a good thing it is coming now so that necessary actions/ changes can be made before the elections. Akwa Ibom State is a peaceful place and we would like it to remain that way”, he added.