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INEC Comes Down Hard On Akpabio: Stop Your Mischief, Blackmails



The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in Akwa Ibom State has described as mischief and cheap blackmail claims by Senator Godswill Akpabio and his legal team that he had been denied access to election materials.

The commission in a strongly worded reaction to insinuations as such in social media said Akpabio and his legal team may have been miffed by the failure of vigilant INEC officials to stop them from smuggling materials that may have compromised genuine materials into the commission’s strong room.

The statement issued on behalf of the commission by its spokesman in Akwa Ibom State, Don Etukudo on Saturday also strongly denounced what it claimed as the repeated efforts by Akpabio and his team to regularly malign the Resident Electoral Commission, REC over their fate.

The commission’s statement said:

“We have come across reports in the social media to the effect that INEC, Akwa Ibom State is denying the legal team of Sen. Godswill Akpabio access to election materials ordered to be inspected by the Election Petition Tribunal. The reports are based on interviews purportedly granted by Barr. Patrick Umoh, the head of the legal team of Sen. Akpabio.

“Even though this claim is consistent with the sustained campaign of calumny against the Commission before, during and after the elections, this baseless allegation is clearly mischief taken too far.  We find it distasteful and hard to believe that a legal practitioner can so cheaply and dishonorably lend himself for use in this unholy enterprise against his conscience and the truth.

Akwa Ibom REC: Mike Igini

“The truth is that a seven-man legal team of Sen. Akpabio has been in the Commission and has actually commenced the process of inspecting the election materials.  They were led into the Strong Room of the Commission where they sighted and confirmed that there are indeed materials and documents to be inspected. Since the materials are inevitably stacked in heaps, Akpabio’s team sat with INEC lawyers to work out and mutually agree on  the modalities and schedule for the continuation of the inspection after the Easter holiday, from Tuesday to Thursday, between the hours of 9am and 4pm. It is instructive to note that they had earlier obtained the CTCs of some of these documents. If they were availed the CTCs of the documents, why would they not be allowed access to inspect the same documents as alleged?

“What could they be doing in the Commission’s Strong Room, a restricted area where materials are kept, if they were not on inspection? How can someone who has been availed all legitimate support and was part of the agreement to continue the inspection after the holiday, turn around to complain that they were denied access to the materials? Is it possible, as is being rumoured in the social media, that they intended smuggling in and dumping on the Commission, extraneous and compromised materials that would jeopardize investigations and thwart the cause of justice and are now venting their frustration at being stymied by the vigilance of Commission staff?

“We observed in the report the sinister habit of dragging Mike Igini’s name into their dirty politics for the malicious purpose of blackmailing him.

We need to state here that the REC has been out of the State on official duty and has not even interacted with the external solicitors of the Commission. He had however left a standing instruction that officers of the Commission must cooperate with the legal teams in the election petitions, especially with regard to obeying every order of the Election Petition Tribunal. This we have done faithfully.

“It is pertinent to state here that Barr. Igini has, at every forum of election stakeholders and in radio and TV discussions canvassed the view that it ought to be the responsibility of the Commission to explain all that transpire in elections being the body that midwife, conduct and manage the election process. It is therefore preposterous to suggest that a Commission which is ready to discharge this burden or onus of proof would deny anyone access to materials used in the conduct of elections.

“We urge the good people of Akwa Ibom State to disregard this cheap blackmail by Barr. Umoh and his cohorts and be assured that INEC under the leadership of Mike Igini, Esq, will at all times work to uphold the integrity of the electoral process. Barr.Umoh must be told that Lawyers are men of honour and should be honourable enough to draw a line between bad politics and advancing the cause of justice.”

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