Despite the Police deployment of 2,000 operatives, the by-election for Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency in Akwa Ibom State was marred by late arrival of materials and violence on Saturday, with some persons feared dead, while others sustained varying degrees of injury.
The exercise was also characterised by the diversion of ballot materials, leading to the arrest of some hoodlums and three top Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains, LEADERSHIP garthered on Saturday.
Amongst those reportedly arrested by the Special Inspector General of Police (IGP) Squad included the Transition Committee Chairman for Ini Local Government Area, Hon. Inibehe Umah; the House of Assembly member for Ini State Constituency, Hon. Lawrence Udoide, and a former Assembly member for Ini State Constituency, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, alleged to be working with thugs sponsored by the PDP candidate in the election, Dr. Glory Edet, to divert polling materials to unknown destination for thumbprinting.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Odiko MacDon, could not ascertain whether the apprehended suspects have been taken to the state headquarters at Ikot Akpanabia, near Uyo the state capital, but promised to give update on the developmentl
However, accreditation of voters started very late at about 10:00am in some of the polling units visited by our Correspondent around the Itak area of Ikono LGA, where the incumbent House of Representatives member, Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), earlier declared winner with a wide margin in the first contest, holds sway.
Across the over 17 polling units, a large number of voters turned out, especially at Unit 2 (Holy Child Primary School), and Unit 14, Ward 11, amongst others.
Speaking with journalists, the presiding officer for unit 2, Mrs Mildness David, attributed the late arrival of materials and accreditation to lack of vehicles to convey them to the Ward Registration Area at the Holy Child Primary School, for onward distribution to the earmarked polling units.
“There were no vehicles to convey the election materials to this place and that was our challenge,” she stated.
The contest pits the leading candidate of House of Representatives seat for Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency, against the former Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Glory Edet, of the ruling PDP in the state, who had earlier lost in the first round of balloting in February 2023.
Also, the YPP candidate for Ibiono Ibom state constituency, Comrade Moses Essien, who was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as having won the election on March 18, 2023, is expected to further authenticate his victory against the former House of Assembly member, Obong Godwin Ekpo, after the rerurn polls in some units in Ibiono Ibom LGA.
“There’s no reason for violence here because the YPP candidate, Mr. Moses Essien, had already been ahead with wide margin in the first round of balloting and was declared as elected and sworn in to serve as the member representing Ibiono Ibom state Constituency, against Obong Godwin Ekpo, the PDP opponent; so the election today (Saturday) in some few units here is just a mere formality,” Chief Akpan Ukpong, a community leader in Ibiono Ibom, explained.