28 March 2019

Nigeria: We Won't Give Certificate of Return to Lawmaker Who Won in Akpabio's LGA - INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akwa Ibom State, says it would not issue a certificate of return to the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate who won the just concluded House of Assembly election for Essien Udim State Constituency.

Except for this particular area - Essien Udim State Constituency - the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the remaining 25 seats for the state House of Assembly.

Godswill Akpabio, a senator from the state, is from Essien Udim.

The PDP is the ruling party in Akwa Ibom.

"We have 25 of them here, apart from Essien Udim," the INEC spokesperson in the state, Don Etukudoh, said of the number of state lawmakers-elect who would be receiving their certificate of return this Thursday.

"His name is not here.

"I think that constituency has issues to be settled by the national headquarters of INEC. That issue is yet to be settled," Mr Etukudoh told PREMIUM TIMES.

He did not, however, say what the "issues" were.

"I am not in the position to talk about it. I know we are not giving that constituency a certificate of return today."

The affected candidate, Nse Ntuen, defeated the PDP candidate, Esse Umoh, with votes from two wards only, after INEC cancelled elections in the other nine wards that make up the local government area.

Mr Ntuen, a serving lawmaker, is seeking to return to the state assembly for a second term.

He had followed Mr Akpabio to defect from the PDP to the APC last year.

Mr Ntuen's defection then, including that of four other PDP state lawmakers, ignited a major crisis, which turned violent, at the state assembly last year, when the five of them were sacked from the assembly because of their defection.

His four other colleagues, his co-decampees, had 'elected' him 'speaker' of the assembly to further polarise the house and hit back at the Speaker, Onofiok Luke.

Mr Akpabio, a former governor of the state, lost re-election and is at the tribunal to challenge INEC's declaration of his opponent, Chris Ekpenyong, as senator-elect for Akwa Ibom North-West District.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP, who has won re-election, is also expected to receive his certificate of return today.

The event is taking place at the state INEC headquarters, Uyo.

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