A new policy which empowers AKISIEC to announce results of the chairmanship election from Uyo, has narrowed and closed off possibility of a transparent, free and fair election on December 2, in Akwa Ibom State.
New manual for the election released by AKESIEC forbids local government collation officers from declaring and announcing results of the chairmanship election at local government areas.
This closed door provision locks out electorate and collation officers from exercising certain rights entreched in the Electoral Act. Provisions of section 5.3 in the manual forfeit the right of electorate to demand, and collation officers to announce and paste results of the chairmanship election at units, ward collation centres, and local government area offices of AKISIEC immediately after collation.
By section 5.3 (sub 1- 5) it is only the chairman of AKISIEC that has the right to declare the results and return the winner of the chairmanship election. What this means is that after results are collated by local government collation officers, it will not be announced or published at local government offices of the commission. The implication is that, final results for the chairmanship election will be what the chairman of AKISIEC says they are.
The 2017 local government election guide makes the chairman of AKISIEC returning officer for all the local government areas. This new scheme is contrary to what obtains in other elections. Usually, election results per unit, ward and local government area, are declared and pasted at polling units, ward collation centres, and local government area offices of the electoral commission.
Consequently, the local government election committee of the All Progressives Congress says it is aware that AKISIEC has three to four versions of manual for the election.
The committee notes that provisions of section 5.3 in the manual for the conduct of the 2017 local government election released by AKESIEC “clearly negate the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended”.
The APC had months ago challenged the credibility of AKISIEC and integrity of its chairman, Aniedi Ikoiwak, to be unbiased in the conduct of the December election.
Chairman of the local government election committee of the APC, Senator Aloysius Etok said the APC has sent a petition to AKISIEC on provisions of section 5.3 of the manual, but was yet to get a response.
Etok stressed at a press conference that results for the chairmanship election should be announced at respective local government areas.
“We want announcement of results to be done at units and ward centres, and all results and winners declared at the local government level”.
His reason is that the chairmanship election is not one where sum of votes from all local government areas must be added for a winner to emerge; so why bring all results first to the chairman of AKISIEC in Uyo? This tricks and shifts substantially point to a direction that AKISIEC might be out to manipulate the outcome of the election.
The APC has called on international election monitoring groups, and civil liberty organisations to prevail on AKISIEC to declare the election results at respective local government areas.
The party had earlier queried the recruitment and training of ad hoc staff for the election by AKISIEC. Local government election committee of the APC says the exercise was “fraught with irregularities and embellished in secrecy”.
“Every intelligence we have gathered points to the fact that the ad hoc staff have been told to do certain clandestine things in favour of the PDP”.
However, the APC says it “shall resist any attempt to manipulate the election, and will reject results of an election not founded on the rule of law”.