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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Akwa Ibom rerun polls marred by violence: corpers, 5 others feared dead

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The supplementary elections declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ikono/Ini and Abak Federal Constituencies of Akwa Ibom State, which were rescheduled for yesterday, were blighted by pockets of violence. No fewer than six persons, including a National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) member serving as Ad-hoc staff, were shot and critically injured.

The rerun polls pitted incumbent House of Representatives member for Ikono/Ini, Mr. Emmanuel Ukpong Udo, who migrated from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pick the Young Peoples Party (YPP) ticket, against former Commissioner, Glory Edet, of the PDP. Going into the re-ordered contest, Ukpong Udo is leading Edet of the PDP with the margin of 4,161. Meanwhile, in the Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency, Clement Jimbo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leads incumbent lawmaker, Aniekan Umanah, with a 2,962-vote margin.

Violence allegedly erupted after PDP supporters hijacked ballot materials and randomly shot some resisting officials of INEC and opposition supporters. Out of the 17 units where the polls were re-conducted in Ikono/Ini, materials in no fewer than seven units were hijacked by armed security agents said to be loyal to the ruling PDP. The Corps member and others, who showed resistance, were shot in the melee.

A former Local Government Chairman, who lost his bid for the House of Assembly under the PDP to the incumbent lawmaker, was alleged to have shot an INEC official when he resisted handing over ballot materials to the PDP thugs after voting. Violence erupted around the Registration Area Centre (RAC) and other voting units soon after voting, as armed hoodlums backed by security agents seized the ballot materials amid sporadic shooting and injury to dozens of voters and officials.

Emmanuel Ukpong Udo called for the cancellation of the polls in the affected units and urged his supporters, who thronged his Hotel, Macaire Resort at Ikot Ekpene, to remain calm while waiting for the final announcement by INEC. Skirmishes with casualties were also reported in Etim Ekpo LGA Ward 7 at Ibio Nnung Achat community and Etok Uruk Eshiet Ward 3, where thugs disrupted the contest with violence and hijacking of ballot materials after the polls.

 

The YPP House of Representatives member seeking a return under YPP platform stated that “tension has been defused and calm returned following the declaration by the INEC National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, that any disputed results should be discountenanced and the outcome declared a nullity.” On the shooting of the Corps member and others across the seven units of Ikono Ward 11, Mr. Osaro Aisien, INEC official in-charge of Publicity and Voter Education, as well as the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), said full details of the cases were still being expected, assuring that no stone would be left unturned in bringing perpetrators to justice.

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