From INI FRIDAY, Uyo
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini has said three staff members involved in electoral malpractices during the 2019 general elections have been sacked.
Speaking earlier today in Uyo while addressing newsmen, Igini also stated that three university lecturers who were found culpable during the elections would be arraigned in court for electoral malpractice.
Igini said the three sacked staff members of the commission were in the ICT unit and their involvement in electoral malpractices had been proven.
He stated that the action became necessary in order to restore the confidence of members of the public in the ability of the Commission to sanction members of staff involved in electoral malpractices.
Igini explained that the importance of the action could not be overemphasized as the electoral umpire must be an institution of integrity that protects the will of the people.
He regretted that despite the training given to the electoral officers and staff of the commission, the affected persons went ahead to involve themselves in unethical practrices.
He explained that the sanctioned staffers manipulated and falsified the election results, thereby producing outcomes that were contrary to the will of the people, saying the sanctions would serve as a deterrent to others.
“We must have an institution that has integrity to protect the will of the people in any election. This will serve as a lesson and a clear message to those who will be engaged in INEC job in future in this State, particularly those playing the role of supervising presiding officers as a very important link, as the last set of people in charge of election materials particularly the ballot papers and result sheets,” he said.
“The lecturers who were engaged as collation and returning officers during the 2019 general elections were reported to have manipulated and falsified election results aimed at producing outcomes contrary to the will of the people as expressed through the ballot.
“Following a formal request by the Commission, the authorities of the affected institutions released the lecturers to appear before an investigative panel set up by INEC headquarters on the 12th and 26th August 2020. The panel subsequently established a prima facie documentary evidence of deliberate criminal manipulation of election results against the collation/returning officers. They will be arraigned in court accordingly.
“In any electoral environment, in order to sustain the confidence of the people to vote, sustain and maintain their power in the electoral process as the best means of expressing the will of the people, anybody who faults electoral process must be punished.
“So in the days ahead, the commission is going to arraign in court a number of academic lecturers from the rank of Doctors and Professors for grievous, deliberate act of election malpractice contrary to the will of the people expressed at the polling units
“As I speak to you, not less than three of the staff of the Commission from the ICT unit, those in the rank of executive and administrative officers were also involved in actions that completely undermined the electoral process and integrity of the commission.”
“In line with the extant rules, the power of the commission to appoint, dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over its staff, have now dismissed these staff from the commission in Akwa Ibom state,” he stated.