By Augustine Akpan
Concerned youth of Akwa Ibom State numbering over two thousand on Monday demanded immediate redeployment of the current Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Mike Igini from the state.
Staging a peaceful protest at the state Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo, the youth armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “Mike Igini is a biased umpire”, ‘Mike Igini is working hands in gloves for the PDP’, ‘Mike Igini is partisan” etc. asking for the embattled REC’s head.
“Mike Igini is not professional in the discharge of his duties. He has been compromised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to rig the upcoming elections in their favour”, one of the protesting youth stated.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting youth, a foremost youth leader in the state, Mr. Stephen Ntokekpo said “the unfolding events in the last couple of days have proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Igini is working for the PDP”.
Speaking further, Mr Ntokekpo noted he had on good authority that Mr. Igini has “collected $1 million from PDP to sell PVCs (Permanent Voter’s Cards) to them and also help them rig election”.
Ntokekpo who said the protest was to send a strong message to INEC that “Akwa Ibom people have rejected Igini in totality”, urged the Commission to “as a matter of urgency transfer the highly compromised REC from the state”.
Sending a strong warning to the embattled REC, the youth leader warned him not to take the peaceful disposition of Akwa Ibom people for granted but should rather leave the state in peace.
“We (Akwa Ibomites) are very peaceful people. We love strangers. But no one should take our peaceful nature for granted. Mike Igini is not a professional. He has been compromised. He is fraudulent. We give him 48 hours to leave this state or else…”, Ntokekpo roared.
Aside serving the REC the ultimatum, the youth leader further warned INEC that the protesting youth will not vacate the secretariat until Igini whom he said was “hell bent on setting the state on fire” was redeployed.
“We will continue to occupy this place until Igini leaves. We cannot sit on the fence and watch a compromised INEC REC set our state on fire”, Ntokekpo stated.
Meanwhile, on the allegation of the Akwa Ibom State REC collecting money from PDP to sell PVCs, earlier in the day, the state police command had paraded criminals arrested last weekend believed to have been smuggled into the state to cause violence during the postponed Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Among those arrested was one Mr Anietie Peters, a PDP Ward Chairman, Ikpa Ibom Ward 2 arrested with 2000 pieces of PVCs which he claimed to have bought from INEC.
In the past few weeks, there have been widespread allegations in the media accusing Mr. Igini of being bribed to the tune of N425m by the Gov Udom Emmanuel PDP-led administration.
Mr Igini however locked himself up in his office and never showed up to address the protesters as at the time this reporter left INEC headquarters, Uyo.