The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Akwa Ibom State has announced that the inspection of election materials by the legal team of Senator Godswill Akpabio in respect of the National Assembly Elections in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district would end today, Tuesday, May 7, 2019.
The Commission added that inspection of the election materials by the legal team of the APC governorship candidate in the state, Obong Nsima Ekere, would commence a day after which is Wednesday, May 8, 2019.
In a statement signed by the commission’s Public Affairs Officer, Don Etukudo, on behalf of the Resident Electoral Officer, Mike Igini and sent to our reporter, the inspections (governorship and House of Assembly) would last for a period of ten days concurrently.
The statement read in parts, “The inspection of Election Materials by the Legal team of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio in respect of the National Assembly Election in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district will end 7th May, 2019.
“The Akwa Ibom State Election Petition Tribunal had ordered the Commission to avail the legal representatives of the Senator, documents used for the conduct of the NASS elections of 23rd February, 2019 in respect of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district.
“Following the Tribunal order, the INEC legal team and the Senator’s Legal representatives jointly worked out a schedule for the inspection which began on the 23rd of April, 2019 and has been going on daily since then.
“While inspections for Akwa Ibom North West NASS election ended tomorrow, inspections in respect of the Governorship, House of Representatives and House of Assembly election petitions will commence on Wednesday, 8th May, 2019.
“According to the schedule agreed to by the legal teams of the Commission and the APC, these inspections will last for a period of ten days.”
Recall that the lead counsel to APC governorship Candidate in the state, Victor Iyanam in a press conference accused the Commission of preventing the team from inspecting the election materials as ordered by the election petition tribunal
But in a swift reaction, the REC, Mike Igini said APC governorship counsel was crying wolf in order to win sympathy explaining in a press statement that “the lawyer for the APC governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, came to the Commission with the order from the tribunal for the first time on Thursday the 25th of April, 2019. He did not come to inspect the materials on that day. He came to inform the Commission of the order and to get it to prepare for the inspection.
The lawyer was told to return the next day so that the INEC legal team could jointly work out the schedule for the inspection. He did not return. He only came back on Tuesday, the 30th of April, 2019. But between Thursday the 25th of April and Tuesday the 30th of April, 2019, before we could work out the modalities for the inspection, the legal team for Nsima Ekere led by Chief Victor Iyanam had convened a press conference at where they accused INEC of denying them access to election materials and threatened to press for contempt against the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
“Other than pure mischief or perhaps trying to elicit sympathy from some quarters for political reasons, we do not understand the motive of the APC legal team. The commission had at no time denied anyone with a valid order from the tribunal access to election materials.”
However, with the commencement of governorship election materials inspection tomorrow, it seems that the rift has been laid to rest.