INEC commence Akwa Ibom State senate, House rerun polls despite APC withdrawal


Voting is ongoing in Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom State, where a Senate rerun involving the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, is taking place.

Mr Akpabio lost his bid to return to the Senate in 2019 when the Independent National Election Commission declared Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party winner of the poll.

After complaints of election fraud and a petition to the tribunal, the former Senate minority leader who was later appointed minister, said he was no longer interested in a repeat poll, but INEC rejected a replacement of candidate.

The electoral body is also conducting reruns for the state ad federal constituencies in the area.

Voting opened Saturday despite the withdrawal of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the state assembly and the House of Representatives rerun elections.

Giving reasons for his withdrawal, Nse Ntuen, the APC candidate for the Essien Udim State Constituency election claimed he won 2019 election and that the Court of Appeal did not order for a rerun election.

Mr Ntuen said, in a statement on Friday, that he has filed a suit in court to “compel INEC to release my Certificate of Return and disembark from conducting any election without further delay”.

On his part, Emmanuel Akpan, the APC candidate for the Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara Federal Constituency election, said he withdrew from the rerun because he did not trust the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mike Igini, to organise a free and fair election.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in Akwa Ibom, in its response to the development, said the APC was already accepting defeat before the election.

“From the tone of his statement, it is clear that both Nse Ntuen and his lawyers have either not read the judgment of the court of Appeal, or are completely ignorant of the language and consequence of that judgment,” the PDP spokesperson in the state, Ini Ememobong, said in a statement on Friday.

“But even at that, the various courts that they have approached both in Uyo and Abuja, via motion exparte, seeking to stop the rerun election of tomorrow, have dismissed their suits, with very harsh words.

“For example, at the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo yesterday, the court frowned at the attempt by Nse Ntuen and his lawyers to turn the court to a circus and angrily dismissed his motion,” Mr Ememobong said.

Meanwhile, voters have turned up at different polling units across the local government area for the elections.

Apart from a few skirmishes, accreditation of voters and voting is going on peacefully in the area.

Thugs, assisted by the dreaded State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police, prevented some journalists from entering the Independent High School, Ukana, until the intervention of the police spokesperson in the state, Nnudam Fredrick.

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