NARROW ESCAPE: AKPABIO WITHDRAWS FROM AKWA IBOM RERUN
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
Sensing an imminent defeat, the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has withdrawn his candidature from the forthcoming rerun election as ordered by the Court of Appeal for the Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District billed for Essien Udim Local Government Area.
In a letter forwarded to the National Chairman of APC with the caption “NOTICE OF VOLUNTARY WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDATURE – RE: AKWA IBOM NORTH-WEST SENATORIAL DISTRICT ELECTION”, Sen. Akpabio said he has taken into consideration the critical national assignment bestowed on him hence his resolve to withdraw his candidature as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming rerun election, and remain in office.
He however asked the party to communicate his withdrawal to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and to also forward the name of another candidate to replace him at the rerun election, and stressed the need for the redeployment of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Barr. Mike Igini, from Akwa Ibom State.
It is worthy of note that Akpabio’s withdrawal from the rerun is coming on the heels of failed campaigns of calumny he and his supporters in APC launched against the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Barr. Mike Igini, recently, threatening to boycott the forthcoming rerun election in Essien Udim LGA, except the INEC REC, Barr. Igini is transferred from the state.
His agitation for the redeployment of Igini from the state has forced Akwa Ibom people to wonder what crime Igini has committed, a man whose reputation as an umpire, is devoid of sentiments and personal aggrandizement and had created a mark for himself in Edo State, Cross River State, lmo, Anambra and other parts of the country, and why Akpabio and his supporters are so scared of him and his solid reputation acknowledged by Nigerians.
The Court of Appeal, Calabar Judicial Division, had on 9 November, 2019, ordered that INEC should conduct a rerun election in Essien Udim LGA within 90 days from the date of the judgement to determine the real winner of Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District election earlier held on 23 February, 2019.
INEC had fixed January 25, 2020 for the rerun election and Akpabio on sensing an imminent defeat and wouldn’t want to lose his ministerial appointment, withdrew his candidature.
Igini as electoral officer has always insisted on card readers in accreditation of voters to prevent elections fraud and manipulations with fake voters cards, while Akpabio is said to have boasted that his alleged 61,000 votes in Essien Udim came from manually accredited voters.