Accuses N’Delta minister of working for PDP
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed to challenge the results of the recent general election in Cross River State at the tribunal.
The party said it was not only contending with the alleged antics of the state Governor, Ben Ayade, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the elections, but the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani whom it accused of having actively worked for the PDP.
While urging INEC to order the cancellation and rerun of the governorship and state assembly elections in the state, the APC described the elections as a sham.
It also claimed that apart from the harassment and intimidation suffered by its members during the polls, names of the party candidates were exluded by INEC.
Addressing a press conference at the APC national secretariat yesterday, the National Vice Chairman of the party for South-south, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, said they would do all that is required to recover the people’s mandate.
“Based on the general atmosphere of exclusion of our candidates, intimidation, manipulation and hijacking of materials, we hereby reject the result declared by INEC and call for the cancellation of the elections in Cross River State in its entirety,” he said.
He accused the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani of collaborating with Ayade to undermine the interest of the APC during the elections.
While sharing the greviances of the party with journalists, the APC chieftain said INEC delayed the decision about getting the APC candidates’ names back on the candidates’ list until the election day.
He said there was nothing more devastating and compromising than the attitude of the state INEC Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Frankland Briyai.
He alleged that Briyai had on the eve of the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 22, addressed journalists and unilaterally announced the delisting of APC candidates purportedly on the orders of a High Court whereas the matter was already in the domain of the Appeal Court from where a stay of execution order was secured.
“At first, INEC Headquarters delayed taking the decision about getting our candidates’ names back on the candidates’ list and even when it finally did, the decision only got communicated to Calabar in the afternoon of the election day. The State INEC REC called our governorship candidate Sen. John Owan Enoh at about 12.30 p.m on Saturday, the election day to ‘congratulate’ him that he had just received the list containing his name.
“The implication of the above was huge. Majority of voters who even turned out to vote were unsure of his candidacy. Several lost interest. Party agents were sent home on the false premise that Senator Owan Enoh was not on the ballot,” he said.
He claimed that beside the avalanche of impunity wrought on the exercise by the security forces, including the police and the army, among others, the whole exercise, he said, was characterised by massive thumb-printing which allegedly began on Friday, March 8 in the Governor’s Office/House in Calabar.
He added that on election day, “our leaders were roundly quarantined in their respective homes.”
The APC vice chairman further alleged that election which was meant to be by card readers was massively manipulated as INEC resorted to use discretion to exploit the law in favour of the PDP.
According to Eta, only votes from supposed APC strongholds were subjected to card readers.