Tom Okpe, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross-River State has rejected the just concluded Governorship Election in the State calling for it’s cancellation and a re-run.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday at the Party’s National Secretariat, the National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Ntufam Hilliard Etta said that the Governorship and State Assembly Election held in the state on the 9 March was a sham which cannot stand the text of time.
“The National Assembly and Governorship/State Assembly elections organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River State on Saturday February 23 and Saturday March 9, 2019, respectively, were, at its best, a sham that cannot stand the test of time.
The contest was not just between the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates on one hand and the candidates of other parties that participated in the exercise on the other hand but between the APC candidates on one hand and the ruling party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the INEC, the Security Forces and Gov Ben Ayade’s organized thugs on the other”.
Etta noted that the Etim John-led faction of the party were the ones INEC collected list of party agents from instead of collecting from the authentic party exco led by Sir John Ochala adding that, “These anti-party agents (Etim John and his pears) colluded with PDP to subvert the will of the people.
“There is nothing more devastating and compromising than the attitude of the state INEC REC Dr. Frankland Briyai who on the eve of the Presidential/National Assembly elections on February 22, addressed the press and unilaterally announced the delisting of our candidates purportedly on the orders of a High Court whereas the matter was already in the Appeal Court from where a stay of execution order was secured. INEC indeed, did the bidding of Gov. Ben Ayade.
“In the just concluded Governorship/State Assembly Elections, about twelve (12) out of the eighteen (18) Local Government Returning Officers were from Obudu, the home Local Government Area of Governor Ben Ayade.
This is outside the fact that all the Returning Officers( RO) are and were card carrying members of the PDP Party agents who complained about this were rebuffed and this accounted for why the state Collation agent of the party walked out of the collation Centre.
“INEC Headquarters delayed taking the decision about getting our candidates’ names back on the candidates’ list and even when it finally did, the decision only got communicated to Calabar in the afternoon of the Election Day.
The State INEC REC called our governorship candidate Sen. John Owan Enoh at about 12.30pm on Satuday, the Election Day to ‘congratulate’ him that he had just received the list containing his name.
“The implication of the above was huge as màjority of voters who even turned out to vote were not sure of his candidacy. Several lost interest. Party Agents were sent home on the false premise that Senator Owan Enoh was not on the ballot.
The election which was meant to be by card readers, was massively manipulated as INEC resorted to use discretion to exploit the law in favour of the PDP. Only votes from supposed APC strongholds were subjected to card readers”.
The party pointed that the avalanche of impunity wrought on the exercise by the security forces made up of the police and the army gave the exercise to be characterized by massive thumb-printing which he said began on Friday March 8 in the Governor’s Office/House in Calabar.
“On Election Day, our leaders were roundly quarantined in their respective homes.
The House of Representatives candidate-elect for Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency Dr. Alex Egbona, had his house searched by soldiers mobilized by Ayade.
“The running mate to our Governorship candidate Ntufam Ekpo Okon had his car searched and detained while our Director of Campaign Organization, Sir Maurice Effiwat had to storm out of the collation Centre in protest against manipulation of figures by the PDP-prone INEC.
Sen. Prince Bassey Otu, the Cross River South Senatorial Candidate was quarantined too just as the State Secretary of the party,Bishop Victor Ebong was sufficiently harassed by Security operatives.
There was massive rigging, thump-printing, intimidation of voters, vote buying, with the aid of INEC and security agents.
There were ballot box snatching, while voters in APC dominated areas were prevented from voting.
There was no election in Cross River State as voting was inconclusive in most polling units across the length and breadth of the state.
But results were entered in Favour of the PDP. It was a calculated charade.
The bottomline is that our candidates were excluded from the election as their names were not on the ballot in the first place”.