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Rerun Election: Police confirms hijacking of polling materials in Essien-Udim council area
CHIEF Superintendent of Police Nnudam Fredrick, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), on Saturday confirmed the arrest of hoodlums who allegedly hijacked election materials during the rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area of the State.
He said all the accused persons have been detained at the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo.
Though, he never mentioned the exact location the arrests were made, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, Commissioner for Trade and Investment in the state, had earlier raised an alarm that election materials were recovered from the residence of an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain.
“It took the strength of the Nigeria Police to recover the stolen materials in the politician’s house,” he said.
The Commissioner, Chieftain of People Democratic Party (PDP) said the materials were meant for six units in Akpautong.
According to him, the ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and an Electoral Officer, were also caught thumbprinting in the home of the undisclosed APC chieftain.
“The Ad- hoc staff, including one of the Electoral Officers assigned to the area, who was abducted with the materials were forced to thumb-print the ballot papers instead of the voters.
“Those arrested were too many. The police had to call for prison van to ferry them to the state police headquarters,” he alleged.
It could be recalled that the Appeal Court, in Calabar, Cross Rivers State had directed re-run election in Essien-Udom Council Area following a court action instituted by the former Governor, Godswill Akpabio, who challenged the electoral umpire to nullify the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District poll which Sen. Christopher Ekpenyong a PDP candidate earlier won.
Ekpenyong, also a former deputy governor during Victor Attah’s administration had 118,215 votes to beat the Akpabio, who got 83,158 votes in the 2019 general election.
But, following Akpabio’s appointment as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, he decided to seek a replacement which INEC rejected.
INEC had insisted Akpabio remains APC candidate for the senatorial zone in today’s poll.
Earlier today, the Minister also exonerated himself from the election.
He said he deliberately decided to stay away from the poll to avoid misconception of his involvement in the electoral process.