The Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre has cautioned the Youth wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, to desist from harassing and embarrassing the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the State, Mr. Mike Igini.
HEDA’s Chairman, Mr. Olarenwaju Suraju, in a statement this weekend issued the stern warning following a protest taken to the entrance of the secretariat of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters by the aggrieved youth who demanded the removal of Mr. Igini.
With the inscriptions such as: “Igini Must Go,” “IGINI Is Working for the PDP”, “Igini is a Biased Electoral Umpire”, the protesters accused Igini of being partisan in the handling of the affairs of his office as it affects the APC, calling on INEC National Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to remove him from the State, in order to save the nation’s fledgling democracy.
They accused the REC of being biased and vindictive in discharging his functions and of disobeying court order/judgement – particularly the Federal High Court order, which authenticated the Stephen Leo Ntukekpo leadership of the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
They urged the national leadership of INEC to wade into the matter before the peaceful protest degenerates into a conflagration.
Reacting, HEDA’s Chairman had advised the angry youths to channel their grievances to the President or National Assembly in the most civil and dignified way and manner without resorting to name calling and harassment of the REC. He said that the aggrieved parties, in the case where the REC is accused of disobeying court order should approach the Court for contempt proceedings against him, which, he said, is the standard procedure in such a case, not the constant harassment of Mr. Igini from exercising his constitutional duties as Akwa Ibom REC.
“There are laid down ways of doing things. This is not a banana republic. We should do things accordingly. Due Process must be followed. Complaints to the National Chairman of INEC should be addressed in a formal letter. This can be copied to the President and the National Assembly and other relevant bodies. Civil Society Organizations as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project are happy to support the process of challenging a REC where cases are well established, because we all are involved.”
Suraju called on President Buhari to call his party members to order and defend the electoral officers across the Federation particularly as States’ elections are in progress and National elections draw near with their attendant discordant tunes.
“The President of Nigeria and the National Assembly must rise to the occasion now and call their party members to order. The President should also defend lives and properties of Nigerians as is his constitutional obligation as enshrined in the supreme law of the land,”
He charged other Civil Society Organizations to be at alert for actions and inactions emerging from different quarters and act accordingly in line with their mandates as Nigeria approaches a more intense elections season. “There are myriads of actions and inactions emanating from different quarters (State and non-state actors) which are potentially inimical to our democracy. We must be proactive and stand up against them now before we are consumed by the same people we call fellow citizens,” he added.