Lead Counsel to Mr Nsima Ekere, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in March 9 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, Chief Victor Iyanam, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of frustrating the party from inspecting election materials as ordered by the tribunal.
Speaking today in Uyo, in a press conference, Iyanam said INEC was playing a script orchestrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a deliberate attempt to delay the inspection of election materials.
He said the plan was to waste the six months period designated by law to handle electoral complain cases, noting that the order issued by the Tribunal since April 15, mandating INEC to allow APC’s legal team to carry out the inspection was yet to be obeyed by the commission.
He alleged that INEC had continued to give flimsy excuses to delay the inspection and frustrate the party from achieving its objectives.
The lead counsel urged INEC to desist from playing the script of the PDP to unnecessarily delay them, and called on the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mr Mike Igini, to expedite action on the matter.
“Some of the excuses include, non availability of the materials as a result of transport challenges in bringing materials from Local Government Areas.
“Inadequate staff to carry out those duties and the fact that the INEC staff are busy with Sen. Godswill Akpabio’s inspection.
“The excuses have variously continued to be untenable in the light of the short period of time to prove our case at the Election Petition Tribunal.
“INEC is supposed to be unbiased. We wonder why INEC is playing ‘hide and seek’, giving flimsy excuses to deny us access to inspect materials,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation, the Public Affairs Officer of INEC in the state, Mr Don Etukudo, said the claims of Iyanam were baseless.
He said, “I would not have dignified such baseless and unfounded allegations with a reply but for the purpose of setting the record straight. Between last week Thursday and today, they had met with the INEC legal team only once and since then, there has been no communication again.
“They have not come back until today, so the allegations are baseless. Inspection is not an easy exercise; it is something that has to be sorted out. We have a schedule for the Governorship, including even the National and State House of Assembly elections”.