May 26, 2024

Youths protest, want Mike Igini removal as REC in A’Ibom State

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Ini Billie, Uyo

Hundreds of youths under the auspices of Coalition of Political Parties in Akwa Ibom State, on Wednesday, protested at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, seeking the removal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini.

The protesters, who blocked the entrance to the commission’s office and prevented the workers from gaining entrance to the premises, were seen chanting, ‘Mike Igini must go’.

They carried placards with inscriptions like, “Igini is biased”, “democracy is not for sale”, “INEC must act now”, “Akwa Ibom REC is compromised”, “Igini don’t kill Akwa Ibom political parties”, “Igini is partisan”, “Igini is a factional chairman of a party”, among others.

The protesters alleged that Igini has become a partisan umpire and the result is the controversy surrounding the All Progressives Party (APC) primaries in Akwa Ibom State.

Leader of the Coalition of Akwa Ibom State Youths in Opposition Parties, Mr Ubok-Obong Umoh called for a probe into the personal vendetta of the REC against APC, especially his comments on national television that APC will not have any candidate for 2023 elections in the state.

Umoh, however, accused Igini of acting on the instructions of the state government, noting that the actions of APC or any other opposition party were not acceptable to him.

He said: “We are protesting clear partisanship demonstrated by a supposed umpire, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barr. Mike Igini.

“Between 2019 and now, Igini has demonstrated that he has no faith in Nigerian democracy and as a result, he is now playing the script of the Akwa Ibom State Government.

“Opposition is meant for checks and balances in government. If Barr. Mike Igini who is supposed to be an umpire feels that there should be no opposition in Akwa Ibom State, he should pack his belongings and leave,” he added.

Also speaking, State APC Youth Leader, Dr Awak Clement wondered why Igini should single himself out to fight APC in the state, saying “Igini is not the only REC that Nigeria has”.

Clement who said Igini had openly declared war against APC even before the primaries, queried why the REC assumed the role of the Supreme Court to reject the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court.

He urged INEC in Abuja to wade into the matter so the peaceful protest does not become disastrous.

In his response, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini attributed the crisis leading to the protest to the APC.

Igini accused the party of forgery, saying APC in the state forged letters that led to the swearing-in of Stephen Ntukekpo as the Chairman of the party against a court judgment.

He insisted that INEC recognises Austin Ekanem as the authentic state chairman of the party, not Ntukekpo.

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