NIGER Delta affairs minister Senator Godswill Akpabio has said he will not stand in the rescheduled Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District elections if the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) does not replace the resident electoral commissioner.
In February’s general elections, Senator Akpabio, the former Akwa Ibom State governor who had defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), lost his seat to Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, Senator Akpabio, who has since been appointed a minister, took the case to the elections tribunal, where he got a favourable judgement.
Ruling on the case, the elections tribunal ordered fresh polls in Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, saying the original polls there were flawed. This judgement was upheld by the Nigerian Court of Appeal, last Saturday, which ruled that Senator Ekpenyong did not win in Essien Udim and therefore ordered a rerun in 90 days.
However, Senator Akpabio and the APC have said they may boycott the election unless Inec replaces the Akwa Ibom State resident electoral commissioner Mike Igini. Dr Chris Akpan, the director-general of the Godswill Akpabio Campaign Organisation, said there was no guarantee that Inec in the state under Mr Igini would be unbiased in the conduct of the re-run, thus insisting that a new electoral umpire must be assigned to carry out the exercise.
Dr Akpan said: “What will be the need for Akpabio to participate in the rerun with Igini as the state Inec REC? Of course he is going to repeat the fraud he committed in the last election.
“We insist that there must be a level playing ground for everybody and with Igini the ground will not be level so we won’t participate. That is the position of my party and also my position as the director-general of Akpabio’s campaign organisation.
“Why shouldn’t Inec do away with him? We had complained about this man but they allowed him work against the APC and its candidates in the last election.”