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AKISCOM: Concerned Elders, Stakeholders Query Conduct Of Election

The concerned elders and stakeholders of the Akwa Ibom State Community (AKISCOM) in Lagos are unhappy with the outcome of the general elections held on November 18, 2023. They have therefore called for the cancellation of the election results and a re-run to enable all the community’s financial members to cast their votes before the inauguration of the new executive in January 2024.

The concerned elders and stakeholders conveyed their grievances in a petition made available to journalists on Friday, titled, “Petition against the disenfranchised financial members and wrongful declaration of President-elect of Akwa Ibom State Community (AKISCOM), Lagos, by the Idong Stephen-led Electoral Committee in an Inconclusive Election: A Call for Re-scheduling of the Election to allow disenfranchised financial members opportunity to vote.”

According to them in the petition sent to the Electoral Committee and copied to the Akwa Ibom Liaison Office in Lagos and the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, “There were 23 local government areas that were cleared for the election by the constitutional provisions and AKISCOM Election Committee set criteria.

AKISCOM elections
Mr Idong Stephen, Chairman,  AKISCOM ELECO 2023

“The election opened on a very bright and peaceful note with the accreditation and voting of local government delegates at about 7 a.m.

“The voting procedure was that each local government delegate would come into the voting hall based on LGA’s alphabetical order. Due to the space constraint, the crowd management strategy was that voters were expected to come in, get accredited, cast their votes, and thereafter exit the hall before the next LGA was admitted into the hall. This went on very orderly without disruption until about 3.30 pm, when the 50 delegates of the Oron nation representing the five LGAs—Oron, Okobo, Mbo, Udung Uko, and Urue Offong/Oruko—turned up for accreditation and voting, after which they refused to leave the hall despite all appeals by the election managers, observers, and pressure from the policemen on duty.

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“Tension and confusion increasingly descended on the venue as we came to find out that most of the voters that were presented by the Oron group were replaced with thugs in anticipation of hijacking the remaining aspect of the election process.

“The delegates of the remaining two (2) local governments of Ukanafun and Uyo managed to cast their votes and exited the hall. Surprisingly, as it came to the voting turn for the AKISCOM financial members, comprising 230 registered members, one of the presidential candidates, Dr. Edet Ambang, attempted to take over the accreditation process amid protests against the development, but the election officials were indifferent to the complaint and also supported the attempt to take over the accreditation.

“A few financial members called in were harassed, intimidated, and rough-handled by thugs brought in by Dr. Edet Ambang.

“The ELECO chairman abruptly terminated the election process, prematurely concluding the proceedings amid the event, leaving over 135 financial members present without the opportunity to exercise their right to cast their votes.

“The Electoral Committee secretary, Mr. Gabriel Edem, reacting in a WhatsApp message on the “Official AKISCOM WhatsApp Group,” confirmed that the election was prematurely ended because of a threat to his life.”

“Apart from calling for a re-run of the election, the concerned elders also called for a thorough investigation of the electoral process to uncover the extent of the electoral malpractices, breach of electoral guidelines, abuse of the accreditation process, constitutional violation, etc., to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”

Efforts to speak with the ELECO Chairman of the AKISCOM general election, Idong Stephen, and the president of AKISCOM, Lagos, Prince Felix Udoh, proved abortive as they were not reachable at press time.

Some members of the community, who spoke under anonymity, called for the issues raised to be looked into so that the peace and unity of the community would be sustained.

The Petition reads:
                                            20th November, 2023
The AKISCOM Executive Committee,
4, Adedapo Street, Yaba,
Attn: Prince Felix Udoh
Dear Sir,
We express our deep concern over the electoral fraud that marred the AKISCOM Lagos elections on November 18, 2023.
The deliberate interference with the electoral rights of eligible voters and manipulation of procedures during this exercise undermines the core principles of free, fair, and credible elections.
1. Failure to Address Voting Procedures’ Protest.
ELECO’s failure to address the protest against the adopted voting procedure violated electoral fairness, denying stakeholders a proper avenue to voice and resolve their concerns.
2. Undue Control by a Presidential Aspirant.
The assumption of control after the LGAs delegates voted, by Chief Dr. Edet Ambang, one of the presidential aspirants and his supporters in connivance with the ELECO secretary over the identification of qualified financial members breached fairness, leading to the exclusion of eligible voters from the opponents’ camp. This subsequently led to the abrupt close of the election without recourse to the standing rules or prior consultation with other candidates.
3. Arbitrary Change in Rules Mid-Election.
ELECO’s arbitrary changes in rules and procedures, deviating from established guidelines introduced uncertainty and potential bias that compromised the integrity of the electoral framework. For instance, the ELECO’S secretary and his prearranged gang demanded other means of identification from voters aside from the AKISCOM ID Card stipulated in the electoral guidelines.
4. Abrupt Termination of Election/Exclusion of Qualified Electorate.
The abrupt termination of the election, restricting financial members from voting, violated ELECO’s published procedures, and this resulted in the disenfranchisement of over 138 qualified electorates. A classic example was the unjust prevention of a former police superintendent Apostle (Prof) Emmanuel Bassey Asuquo, a duly cleared electorate, from voting. This violated his voting rights and suggested systemic manipulations.
5. Use of Hired Thugs for Voters’ Suppression.
The use of hired thugs to prevent financial members perceived as supporters of one of the frontline candidates from voting introduced violence into the election, endangering the lives of state officials. This contradicts the ideals of free and fair elections.
Disenfranchising 42% of legitimately cleared delegates with valid AKISCOM identity cards and other relevant means of identification is a blatant violation of electoral integrity and undermines the fundamental right of members of our community to participate in the electoral process.
6. Voters’ Discrimination.
Voter discrimination in a community election violates democratic ideals, directly contravening the principles of free and fair elections, as outlined in the electoral guidelines provided by ELECO. Thugs brought by a presidential candidate blocked the entrance of the hall and only allowed voters loyal to their candidate. All the local government delegates who voted before Oron exited the hall after casting their votes. But quite regrettably, Oron became defiant and refused to leave the hall after voting at the instructions of Dr. Edet Ambang, against the standing policy, which was adhered to by other local governments, including Uyo and Ukanafun who voted last.
On the premise of the fact stated above we propose the following:
1 A declaration that the election was inconclusive because the 138 voters (42% of all eligible voters) who were qualified, willing and present to vote on election day is far more than the margin of leads 5.4% (18 votes) between the two leading presidential candidates.
2. A rescheduling of the inconclusive election to enable the wrongly disenfranchised voters who were standing in the sun the whole day waiting to cast their votes.
3. We demand a thorough investigation into these blatant violations of voting guidelines published by AKISCOM ELECO
These steps are crucial in preserving the democratic values within our community to restore the confidence of members and intending members in AKISCOM.
Furthermore, we insist that those responsible for these violations be held accountable under the law.
We believe that justice must prevail to uphold the democratic principles that bind our community together in line with best global practices.
CC: Office of the Akwa Ibom State Governor
Akwa Ibom State Liaison Office, Lagos

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