Essien Udim Re-run: CLO Lauds Police, INEC

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…Wants Prosecution of Electoral Offenders

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State Branch, has commended the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force on the arrest of 79 suspects in connection with the reported hijack and diversion of election materials during the Saturday, January 25, 2020 court-ordered re-run elections in Essien Udim local government area of the State.

The commendation was made by the chairman of the organisation, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, while speaking at a press briefing in his office in Uyo, on Wednesday, January 29, on the outcome of the re-run elections.

The CLO chairman commended the smooth conduct of the exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying that with the collation and announcement of results of the poll, the people of the affected areas will now have their representatives in the respective elective offices in the country.

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It would be recalled that the Akwa Ibom State Police Command through the Police Public Relations Officer, CSP, Nnudam Fredrick, had confirmed in a statement that it rescued 46 persons abducted by political thugs the re-run, comprising 25 corps members and 21 security personnel.

The Police said it acted on a distress call that INEC supervisors and ad-hoc staff, security agents attached to Ward 10, Unit 6 were abducted and the electoral materials seized and diverted to a private premise at Ukana Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim Local Government Area.

The CLO boss however frowned at the use of political thugs in the poll by politicians, noting that “election should not be seen and/or taken as a ‘do-or-die’ affairs by political actors.”

 Comrade Isong said that several media reports have quoted the State INEC REC, Mr Mike Igini, as saying that the Police has released the 79 suspected political thugs arrested in connection with the electoral violence during the re-run, asserting that if the reports are true, it is unfortunate for democracy in Nigeria.

The CLO chief maintained that while the political thugs are presumed innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty, the Police authorities should carry out a thorough investigation on all reported cases of electoral violence and malpractices in the re-run elections, adding that appropriate charges should be filed in the court against the perpetrators and their sponsors in order to serve as a deterrent to others in future elections in the State.