Ballot Box Snatching, Voter Apathy Mar Akwa Ibom LG Poll

The local government election in Akwa Ibom was on Saturday marred by voter apathy and late arrival of election materials in many of polling units in the state.

Some hoodlums also snatched ballot boxes in some council areas in the state. Voting started in Ibiono Ibom, Eastern Obolo at 10.45am. In the Ini Local Government Area, fake police officers were alleged to be moving around hijacking electoral materials.

Officials of the state Independent Electoral Commission in Ikot Abasi, some areas in Uyo, Urue Offiong/Oruko and others were awaiting election materials as of 3pm on Saturday.

At Mbo and Udung Uko council areas, believed to be the stronghold of the All Progressives Congress, election materials were hijacked by thugs.

They also attacked the AKISIEC offices in Mkpat Enin and Uyo.

The thugs, suspected to be cult members, were said to have shot into the air in Mkpat Enin to scare eligible voters.

Our correspondent learnt that the situation became chaotic with the arrival of some top officials of the commission in Mkpat Enin.

The incident recorded no casualty but the police were said to have arrested two hoodlums.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that in AKISIEC office in Uyo on Friday night, many people were injured as people protested against the non-release of election materials to the opposition party.

An unconfirmed report said an APC chieftain in Ikot Ekpene, Sunny Ibanga, was arrested by the police for illegal possession of firearms, a report which the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, described as untrue.

In Mbo council area, particularly in Ebughu Ward 1 and 2, thugs also hijacked electoral materials.

Meanwhile, the state APC has rejected the outcome of the election. A chieftain of the party in the state, Mr. Nsima Ekere, described the poll as a farce.

Ekere, who expressed disappointment with the non-availability of election materials, having waited till 2:45pm in his ward at Edemaya, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, added that he received reports about similar development in all the state’s 31 local government areas.

He accused the PDP and AKISIEC of collaborating to conduct a non-credible council election in the state.

Ekere said, “The entire process is a farce as there are no materials for election even in my ward. Democracy is having people to have their way, especially in the local government which is at the grass roots.’’

The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhmmadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, also described the poll as a sham.

He added that the APC was the winner of the poll, adding that the PDP was at liberty to announce those it wanted as winners.

He said, “The truth is that the PDP knows that the APC is on the ground and (it is) the majority in the state. That was why it didn’t allow the people to make their choice.”

A former military administrator in Ogun and Rivers states and an APC chieftain, Sam Ewang, called for the outright cancellation of the election, saying there was no semblance of election but an arrangement designed to make miscreants take over the state.

Besides, the coalition of civil society said there was no election in the state.

The Head of the Group, Mr. Alli Abaca, said the coalition’s visit to all the polling units across the state showed that there were no voting materials as of 1pm.

However, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Mr. Ini Ememobong, said the election was free and fair.

Ememobong said the APC did not prepare for the poll, adding that the late arrival of election materials in some polling units was not only in areas the APC regarded as its stronghold.

Elkana said the election process was peaceful and no death was recorded.

The Punch

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Author: Eric Eric