The Independent National Electoral Commission has commenced the prosecution of electoral officials indicted for malpractice in the general elections in Akwa Ibom state.
A statement issued by an official of the commission, Odaro Aisien, disclosed that INEC has dismissed three members of staff of the Commission in Akwa Ibom State office who were fingered in misconduct during the elections.
The 2019 elections in Akwa Ibom had been generally peaceful, except for some parts of Essien Udim where the electoral umpires admitted abduction, hijack of materials and other sharp practices, leading to the rerun in the area in February 2020.
According to the statement, the officials that are being prosecuted include university lecturers indicted in the act of malpractice when they were engaged as Collation and Returning Officers during the elections.
The concerned lecturers allegedly manipulated and falsified election results to produce outcomes contrary to the will of the people as expressed through the ballot.
The statement said, “Following a formal request by the Commission, the authorities of the affected institutions released the lecturers to appear before an Investigative Panel set up by INEC Headquarters on the 12th and 26th August, 2020.
“The Panel subsequently established a prima facie documentary evidence of deliberate criminal manipulation of election results against the Collation/Returning Officers…who will be “arraigned in Court accordingly”.
It added that the staff who were suspended “had appeared before the Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee (APDC) of the Commission that found them culpable of acts of gross misconduct and accordingly dismissed them in line with extant rules”.
The statement added, ”This should be a lesson and a clear message to all ad hoc Staff, particularly those that would be engaged as Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs) and Collation/Returning Officers in future elections in this State as well as other places where the Commission would be conducting elections in the days and months ahead.
“Poll Officials must observe the highest principles of ethical standards required of them”, the release advised.
“It would be recalled that prior to the 2019 general elections, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini Esq, had repeatedly warned all electoral personnel, both permanent and ad hoc, to shun acts likely to compromise the electoral process and undermine the efforts of the Commission and the confidence of the electorate”.
“He had stressed on several occasion that the Commission, under his watch, would take all administrative and legal actions against any and all who deviate from established electoral guidelines and principles”.