The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini Esq, has urged officials who will partake in the conduct of the court-ordered rerun elections in Essien Udim LGA, to remain faithful to the ethos of free, fair and credible elections by ensuring that not an inch of the process is allowed to be compromised.
The REC stated this in a release issued by Odaro Aisien, the Head of Department (HOD), Voter Education and Publicity on Wednesday, January 15.
Declaring a two-day pre-election training exercise open in the State office of the Commission, the REC emphasized that the will of the people, expressed at the polling units must always determine the outcome of elections. He regretted that elections have been allowed to degenerate to contests decided finally by the courts instead of the electorate, noting that the trend does not only erode the pride of the umpire but ultimately undermines the democratic process.
He however commended the staff, particularly those who served in Essien Udim LGA during the last general elections, for working to uphold the integrity of the process in spite of the challenges they had to confront. He said their steadfastness and loyalty to the ideals of the Commission had helped to distinguish Akwa Ibom as one of the best State Offices in the country.
The REC observed that the courts substantially agreed with the Commission that elections in Essien Udim were marred by widespread irregularities, which was why the rerun elections were ordered at all legislative tiers in the LGA.
He explained that for the Senatorial and House of Representatives Constituencies, elections would be conducted in 219 Polling Units (PUs) in Essien Udim. However, for the State constituency, where a return was not made ab initio, supplementary elections would be conducted in 137 units, leaving out the 22 units where results were obtained and preserved.
He expressed confidence in the professionalism of the staff and enjoined them to remain resolute and committed to the values of the Commission during the rerun elections slated for the 25th of January, 2020.