Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akwa Ibom State, yesterday accused the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of allegedly embarking on media campaigns to smear the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, in the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in the state.
INEC in a statement signed by its Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Don Etukudo, stated that the APC petitioners were busy playing the victim card in the media instead of concentrating their energies and resources in proving their cases at the tribunal.
“For some time now, the INEC in Akwa Ibom State has refused to be drawn into making comments or reacting to unbalanced reportage of the proceedings of the tribunal.
“In spite of this resolve not to join issues with anyone, the commission wishes to note that the state chapter of the APC and Senator Godswill Akpabio had since identified state REC, Igini, as the man they must demonise if they are to win their cases at the tribunal.
“First, it was that INEC was withholding election materials ordered to be released to them by the tribunal. Now, it is that Igini instructed the Collation Officer to cancel their votes in Essien Udim Local Government Area.
“If they were capable of reasoning, we would have advised that rather than dissipate their energies in whining and waging a futile media campaign against Igini, they should invest their efforts at the tribunal where they can reclaim their mandate,” the statement noted.
The commission said it was aware that commenting on matters that are currently being adjudicated upon was wrong, noting that the media spaces were bought, while spurious audio and video recordings were procured, doctored and splashed on social media to promote falsehoods.
According to the statement, the commission has chosen to ignore skewed reportage-sometimes outright fabrications spewed out by media hacks and hirelings or even ignorant ‘citizen journalists’-who, even without understanding the issues, must break the news of “who has won in the tribunal today.”
He said: “Just as they saw his removal from the state as the only way they could win the 2019 elections, their current thinking seems to be that if Igini is abused, maligned, vilified and scandalised enough, the tribunal would award them ‘their mandate’ no matter the strength or weakness of their petitions.”
“And so media mercenaries are hired and paid to pick snippets from tribunal proceedings, twist and convulse the narrative to portray Igini as a villain and plant the retches online and pliable media houses.
“Perhaps they need to be assured that no one in the commission is, by any means, fazed by their shenanigans. The commission has a clear conscience, and it’s convinced that it did its best to give the Akwa Ibom people the opportunity to elect their leaders according to the law
“The public should note that whereas the commission is aware of the vile media campaign against it, it has chosen, for reasons earlier stated, to maintain a dignified silence.”