….Says INEC has developed tracking system to monitor polls
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in charge of Akwa Ibom State, Barrister Mike Igini has said that nobody will successfully rig election under his watch.
Igini, who was a former union leader during his university days has also revealed that INEC has developed robust tracking systems to monitor elections.
Reacting to the judgment by the Akwa Ibom State High Court 2, sitting in Ikot Ekpene that found Professor Peter Ogban guilty of electoral offence and sentenced him to three years imprisonment, Igini said the legitimacy of electoral process can only be safeguarded if offenders were punished.
Recall that the INEC in Akwa lbom State had taken Prof. Ogban, who is a lecturer in University of Calabar to court on a two-count charge of tampering with results of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in favour of the All Progressives Congress, APC, during the 2019 general elections.
Ogban, who is a soil scientist had acted as the collation/returning officer during the National Assembly elections. He was prosecuted for manipulating and falsifying the election result in Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo local government areas in favour of APC.
In his reaction to the judgement which has been described as a landmark development in the history of punishment of electoral offenders in Nigeria, Igini, who was a former REC in Cross River and Edo States warned politicians who would be thinking of manipulating the electoral process during elections to have a rethink, saying that there was no room for such characters again.
He said, “The legitimacy of electoral process can only be safeguarded if offenders are punished. l should say that those who desire or crave the honour of a king should not break the law of the land, otherwise they will forfeit public respect.
“So, l agree with you that what happened today is a watershed development that will help to restore and reinforce public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process under the leadership Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his committment to a sane electoral environment where attitudes are shaped and confidence established that the ballot remains the best means of expression of the will of the people as to who can assume position of authority to exercise power in a democracy.
“You cannot rig election successfully under my watch with my team either through thme use of violence or compromise of permanent staff or adhoc election result collation and Returning officers like this professor that had just been convicted by the court.
“We have developed robust tracking systems of monitoring election day process with early warning triggers in our electoral operation support system, fully implemented here in Akwa lbom during the 2019 election that captured some of these serious.”
A cross section of Nigerians have commended the courage exhibited by Mr. Igini to always ensure that the right thing was done during and after elections even at the risks of his life.
Recall also that about three staff of INEC in Akwa lbom state, who were found guilty of compromising the electoral process during the 2019 general elections have been booted out of the commission.