As the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River state on Saturday ordered for re- run elections for the House of Representatives and Senate seats in Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District respectively, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in that state have commended the court for the judgement.
The PDP in Akwa Ibom state considers the judgement as an opportunity to widen the margin of victory while the INEC said the ruling has vindicated the commission’s claims of widespread irregularities in Essien Udim Local Council Area during the February 19 poll in the state.
In separate statements issued on Sunday and signed by Don Etukudoh, the INEC said the appeal court ruling has confirmed that ballot boxes in Essien Udim were snatched while ad hoc staff were manhandled.
“Nigerians will recall that Essien Udim was the only state constituency of the 26 where INEC did not declare any winner or make a return on account of the violence and irregularities reported by the commission’s field staff and corroborated by the press as well as local and international observers.
“As widely reported then, thugs loyal to Senator Godswill Akpabio had gone on rampage in most part of the local government area as soon as the polls were open. They snatched and stuffed ballot boxes, foreclosed the use of card readers, brutalized INEC ad hoc staff and prevented voters from exercising their franchise,” he said.
Etukudoh explained that the appeal court ruling on the matter has confirmed that all the reports of the commission in that election were true.
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom state chapter of the PDP has assured that the re- run election ordered by the appeal court will widen the margin of victory for the party.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the state Publicity Secretary Comrade Ini Ememobong, the party corroborated the position of INEC on irregularities, thuggery and snatching of ballot boxes in Essien Udim Local Government Area and therefore, applauded the court for the judgement.
The party maintained that victory in the ordered re- run is sure as the party’s candidate, Sen. Christopher Ekpenyong will win again and advised the minister of Niger Delta Affairs to resign his position and join the campaign for the re- run election.
“We welcome the judgement of the court and hereby, indicate our preparedness for the election, as this will provide an opportunity for us to widen the margin of victory against Emman Akpan, Senator Akpabio and the APC.
“We are expectant that the senator will very soon tender his resignation from his ministerial office to meet us in the campaign field, as the law demands,” Ekpenyong said.