Why APC Wants Rivers, Akwa Ibom RECs Changed

One immediate fallout of the March 28 presidential and National Assembly elections in the sister states of Rivers and Akwa Ibom is the growing call for the removal of the resident electoral commissioners in both states.

Amadu Atai, chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Akwa Ibom State, has demanded the redeployment of Austin Okogie, the state REC, and outright cancellation of the March 28 elections in his state due to what he has severally described as collusion between INEC and officials of the ruling party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

A large number of APC members from Rivers State also took their protest hundreds of kilometres away to Abuja yesterday, Tuesday, April 7, where they categorically asked the INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, to redeploy Gesila Khan, REC in the state, before the April 11 governorship and Houses of Assembly polls.

Not only are both states calling for the redeployment of the RECs, they have also demanded outright cancellation of the results of the March 28 polls, which they described as sham.

In both states, there are serious allegations of killings of APC members which the party attributed to PDP agents. In Rivers State alone, about 57 APC members were reported to have been killed as at April 7.

Not only has the party accused the police of doing nothing about the killings, it has even gone ahead to accuse the force of complicity in some instances.

Since 2010, Akwa Ibom State has become notorious for the killings of opposition politicians, the latest being the murder of Okon Uwah, a former deputy speaker of the state legislature and House of Assembly candidate under APC.

All APC members who spoke to TELL a day after the presidential election in Rivers State maintained that elections did not take place in the state, a point Ibim Semenitari, Rivers Commissioner for Information, repeated while the Abuja protest was ongoing.

Josiah Olu, Rivers State House of Assembly member, Eleme Constituency, told the magazine that there were no elections in their various polling units and explained that he could not understand where INEC got the results it collated and later announced, with PDP winning by a landslide.

In shedding more light on the said collusion between INEC and PDP in the state, Olu noted that not only was there no INEC result sheets, but the party and INEC ensured that all electoral officers such as presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and even members of the NYSC who were supposed to be ad hoc staff were dropped and replaced with PDP members in order to ensure there was no opposition to their grand plan to rig the elections in favour of PDP.

In the case of Akwa Ibom, Atai claimed Okogie handed over INEC’s sensitive materials such as result sheets to the state governor and members of his party, which he said, enabled them come up with whatever figures they wanted.

The fears in the two oil-rich states are that if the RECs are allowed to remain, they may not be trusted to do an objective job come April 11, when the crucial governorship elections will hold.

Nigerians are waiting to see what decision Jega and his Commission would make on these controversial States ahead of Saturday’s election.

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