Why A/Ibom Election Tribunal Was Moved To Abuja – Akpabio | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why A/Ibom Election Tribunal Was Moved To Abuja – Akpabio

Posted: Jul 24, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Mmek-Obasi Akpabio is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a member of the APC campaign organization in the last general elections in Akwa Ibom State. He is a strong believer that APC won the April 11 governorship elections in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview with DAVID ODAMA, in Abuja, he bares his mind on some national issues, including the perceived ruling party’s delay in its take off long after inauguration. Excerpts…

Your boss is at the tribunal contesting the outcome of the April 11 elections over what he has described as electoral fraud; what is your take on this?

I think where we are now is the most logical place to be. You know when INEC declares results you are only obliged to go to the tribunal to ventilate your views. Our position is that there was no election in Akwa-Ibom, as the governor unleashed his private army and personnel of the security agencies in the state whom he could compromise to unleash terror on the people of Akwa-Ibom state. I won’t say more than that because the matter is in the tribunal.


Is the Tribunal the final arbiter on this matter you hold so dearly as a party? We are law abiding citizens. On this matter, we have implicit and explicit faith in the tribunal, we believe that the Tribunal is the best place to be for now.

Whatever decision it takes on the matter would be acceptable by you?

The Tribunal is the court of first instance. We will utilize the whole process of the facility of law on the matter. I repeat, we have implicit and explicit confidence on the judiciary for justice on this matter. So I cannot at this point say that if the tribunal rules this or that way we will go home. We are democrats who will avail ourselves of the full facility of the judiciary for the governorship and state assembly elections.


When you say there was no election in Akwa-Ibom in spite of the pictures that came from the state on the process, do you not think it defies logic to accept your position?

Of course, as my people would say, there is no war of the vanquished where a 100 percent of the defeated were killed in such a war or battle. But you may have killed some 98 percent of that population. That is still a massacre. That is a pogrom. So, Essien- Udim Local government where Governor Akpabio comes from, he made sure that relatively, due process was observed just to show to the World that a semblance of elections took place. I can tell you that at Don Etiebet Orukanam Local Government, somebody as prominent as that, did not vote, Obong Victor Attah, a former governor did not vote in Ibesikpo Asutan Local government. Myself, and several of us could not vote in Oron Local Government. This denial of plebiscite happened in all the Local governments of the Akwa-Ibom state which has 31 Local Government. I can assure you that in over 28 local governments there were no elections.


Nigerians have expressed great support for the smart card reader (SCR) and you are here  saying that this was not the case in Akwa Ibom, what was the role of the permanent voter card in all of this scenario you are painting?

Card Reader, we are talking about governorship and state assembly elections not presidential and National Assembly elections. Ok, if card readers were used as directed by INEC and INEC insisted vie a Memo a week to that election that it was mandatory for the card readers to be used in all elections and where the card reader malfunctions, the extant instruction by INEC was that you defer the elections to the following day so that they could replace the card reader. On the contrary, in Akwa-Ibom State, if you see the myriads of incidence forms used, it was so much so that at the end of the day you saw the allocation of votes. Card readers accredited was a little above 400,000 votes but the results declared was some 1,200,000 votes. Where did over 700,000 votes come from? We did not need to go into this things, the Tribunal will handle it. Even the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, stated this clearly during his interview with Channels Television. Several other leaders in Akwa Ibom, Chief Etiebet, Chief Attah and others have expressed their reservation on this. Since the matter is before the tribunal, we are circumspect in letting out information not to sub judice or prejudice the outcome of the court.


As a stakeholder in the electoral process in Akwa-Ibom state, what is your take on the arrangement that the electoral materials should be moved to Abuja vis a vis the clamour by the PDP for a relocation of the tribunal back to Akwa-Ibom?

Do I need to have any take? That is a judicial decision, well considered decision taken by a competently constituted court. So, if a court gives pronouncement, based on its competence and expertise, based on the extant rules of the court, do I need to have a take on that? On the PDP and her governors, what do you expect the PDP to say? PDP that used to mobilise their members and all manner of streets urchins to come to disrupt the sitting of the tribunal so much so that even the tribunal members were threatened.


PDP is used to hooliganism, PDP is used to illicit processes. After the electoral heist of April 11, PDP now wanted to use all fair and crook means to frustrate the proper presentation of their electoral felony before the tribunal. So when the tribunal was located in Akwa-Ibom state, PDP did everything to make sure that justice could not be obtained there. So, in the wise counsel of the institution of the judiciary, the tribunal had to be returned to Abuja. Not long ago, the tribunal ruled in favour of our application for all the materials (since PDP was also frustrating our inspection) – you know, every material particular of the case is vested or depends on your ability to inspect the election materials so as to know the proper situation of things. So, PDP was fighting hard to do all sorts of things. Deploying every strong arm tactics to make sure that their sitting was impossible. Even the former Attorney-General had to go to INEC to start mayhem with the APC men that went to inspect the materials. As an answer to the kind judgement of the Judiciary, the institution directed that the materials be relocated to Abuja. And that the issue of the relocation of the tribunal has been in contest and tribunal got evidence from both parties and the ruling was reserved to a certain dates that would be communicated to the parties.