Iniobong Ekponta, Uyo
Few days to the mandatory 10 days given by Presidential and National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal for the inspection and forensic examination of ballot materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Chief Godswill Akpabio winner of the Senatorial election for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have started trading blame.
Outgoing Governor Akpabio (Essien Udim) was challenged by Chief Inibehe Okorie (Etim Ekpo) at the March 28, 2015 contest in which Akpabio was declared winner by INEC in what the APC described as a sham election whose outcome was heavily stage managed by INEC for the PDP.
Aggrieved by this development, Okorie had taken the matter before the tribunal and eventually secured the leave for the affected materials to be inspected.
Towards this end, representatives of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the ongoing inspection of electoral materials used for the Presidential/ National Assembly elections of March 28, 2015 in Akwa- Ibom State have alleged collusion between the PDP and the State government to scuttle the exercise.
According to one of the APC representatives for the exercise, Mr. Adedoyin Ewederin, who spoke with Journalists yesterday at the INEC Secretariat in Uyo, alleged that INEC deliberately commenced the exercise late on the instructions of the PDP chieftains and the state government so that it will not be impossible to complete the exercise within the scheduled 10 days given by the tribunal.
But the Attorney-General (A-G) of the state, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko denied the allegations saying the exercise has been smooth and without rancour or suspicion as all the representatives of the political parties were actively involved in the sorting and counting of the ballot papers.
According to the A-G, it would have been desultory as demanded by the APC representatives not to complete the sorting and counting of ballot papers before going into scanning. “Even if this exercise is not completed within the stipulated ten days, there is always a room for making up because I believe that the ultimate purInpose of this exercise is to ensure that the ends of justice as it relates to the integrity of the electoral exercise is upheld”, Nwoko said.
State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Austin Eni Okojie, explained that all the materials including voter register, ballot papers and all other sensitive materials needed for inspection, sorting, counting and scanning have been presented by the Commission.