Nigeria: Akwa Ibom Rerun - Kidnapped INEC Official Freed, Ward Election Cancelled

26 January 2020

The kidnapped official of the electoral commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State has been released.

The Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO) was kidnapped by gunmen in Afafayin /Igonigoni Ward in Akwa Ibom State during the rerun election in the area.

The commission also announced the cancellation of eight polling units in the ward.

According to the commission, the cancellation was due to the kidnapping of the SPO and hijack of election materials in the rerun elections.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how INEC officials in the state were held hostage inside a public secondary school in Afafayin /Igonigoni Ward, Essien Udim local government of Akwa Ibom.

Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, is from the ward.

Mr Akpabio is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the senatorial rerun. He is challenging Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party who was declared the winner of the main senatorial election until the court ordered a rerun in Essien Udim local government.

Mr Akpabio had announced his withdrawal from the election but INEC rejected the withdrawal saying he remained the candidate of the APC.

It was during the rerun election that the kidnapping of the official occurred.

But INEC in a statement on Saturday said the official has now been released,

It added that no lives were lost but a police officer sustained injuries

The commission listed items that were stolen to include electoral materials, cash and mobile phones.

"The INEC team led by the supervisory National Commissioner, in charge of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Delta States Dr Muhammad M Lecky reported the incident to the Commissioner of Police Nkereuwem A Akpan who was also in Abi LGA for the elections.

"The kidnapped victim has regained freedom from his abductors without elections materials recovered which include sensitive and non sensitive materials.

"The lost items include: nine-five smart card readers, 5616 ballot papers result sheets. Others are mobile phones, cash from election officials who were basically National Youth Service Corps members.

"Apart from the policeman that sustained injury, no life was lost," the statement said.

"However, the commission has cancelled the election in Afafanyi/Igonigoni ward consisting of eight polling units and 5,616 registered voters due to the violence (and) abduction of the SPO, ballot papers, result sheets and smart card readers.

"INEC does not reward impunity and violence."

The, commission, therefore, appealed to the public to exercise patience, "assuring the voters that results from the polling units will reflect in the final collation and declaration of results."

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