By Bayode Sipasi
The Forum of All Political Parties in Akwa Ibom has called for the redeployment of Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state. The forum accused the REC of working for the interest of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and therefore would not be able to conduct fair, free and credible elections.
Mr. Kingsley Akaiso, of Fresh Party, who is the Forum Chairman, at a press conference in Uyo on Tuesday, said INEC should remove Igini so as to restore confidence in its ability to hold free, fair and acceptable elections.
“We have had cause in the immediate past to call attention to the failure of the INEC leadership in the state to inspire the confidence of all parties in the political process by reason of the actions of the Commission and the utterances of its leaders.
“INEC has betrayed unbridled partisanship through the selection of its adhoc staff, some of whom are drawn from the employees of the commission, contrary to extant practices and institutional requirements.
“Through connivance with the state government, all the adhoc staff of the Commission is made up of loyal members and supporters of the PDP. “In addition, the commission has acted as though it is part of the Government House in Uyo.
“In spite of our representations to the Head Office of the Commission in Abuja, nothing has been done to allay our concern that the INEC office in Akwa Ibom State is not a fair umpire and cannot deliver a free, fair and transparent election because it is partisan and in bed with the ruling PDP government in the state.
“This anomaly must be addressed,” the forum said.
Recalls that the All Progressives Congress (APC) youths in the state had also called for the redeployment of the REC.
However, Igini debunked the allegations, insisting that the commission had been non partisan, fair and unbiased in its dealings with all political parties. He denied that the recruitment of adhoc staff was done in collusion with the state government.
“This is untrue, totally inaccurate and wholly incorrect because poll officials of various category and the institutions from where they are sourced are well known to the Nigerian people,” he said.
He stated the ad-hoc staff were recruited from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, federal agencies including the University of Uyo.
“They are civil servants and by the law of the land, civil servants are not card carrying members of any political party.
“In any case, the list of the collation officers were sent from the headquarters. Why would someone make up this kind of allegation,” Igini said.(NAN)