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For some time now, the Independent National Electoral Commission, Akwa Ibom State, has refused to be drawn into making comments or reacting to unbalanced reportage of the proceedings of the Election Petition Tribunal. Conscious of its status as an umpire, INEC is only interested in the justice of the matters before the tribunal.

It is only there to explain how it conducted the elections in the State. The Commission is aware too, that commenting on matters that are currently being adjudicated upon is wrong.

On these premises, therefore, INEC has chosen to ignore skewed reportage, sometimes outright fabrications spewed out by media hacks and hirelings or even ignorant “citizen journalists” who, even without understanding the issues, must break the news of “who has won in the tribunal today”!

In spite of this resolve not to join issues with anyone, the Commission wishes to note that the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the APC and Sen. Akpabio had since identified Igini as the man they must demonize if they are to win their cases at the tribunal.

Just as they saw his removal from the State as the only way they could win the 2019 elections, their current thinking seems to be that if Igini is abused, maligned, vilified and scandalized enough, the tribunal would award them “their mandate”, no matter the strength or weakness of their petitions.

And so media mercenaries are hired and paid to pick snippets from tribunal proceedings, twist and convulse the narrative to portray Igini as a villain and plant the retches online and pliable media houses.

First, it was that INEC was withholding election materials ordered to be released to them by the tribunal. Now, it is that Igini instructed the Collation Officer to cancel their votes in Essien Udim. Media spaces are bought, spurious audio and video recordings are procured, doctored and splashed on social media to promote this falsehood.

What we don’t understand is, if, as it is their constitutional right to do, they have taken the matters to the tribunal, why are they busy playing the victim card in the media instead of concentrating their energies and resources in proving their cases at the tribunal?

Perhaps they need to be assured that no one in the Commission is, by any means, fazed by their shenanigans. The Commission has a clear conscience, convinced that it did its best to give the Akwa Ibom people the opportunity to elect their leaders according to the law.

If they were capable of reasoning, we would have advised that rather than dissipate their energies in whining and waging a futile media campaign against Igini, they should invest their exertions at the tribunal where they can reclaim “their mandate”. We need not waste our saliva (ink).

The public should note that whereas the Commission is aware of the vile media campaign against it, it has chosen, for reasons earlier stated, to maintain a dignified silence.

Don Etukudo
Public Affairs Officer, INEC, AKS

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