By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has concluded plans to arraign University lecturers that aided electoral malpractice in the 2019 general election in Akwa Ibom State, The Nation has learnt.
In a statement signed by Odaro Aisien, Head of Department (HOD), VEP, the Commission disclosed that “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”.
According to the statement, “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”.
The statement added that, “they will be arraigned in Court accordingly”.
It added that, “While the unethical conduct of these lecturers does not represent that of the overall majority who worked diligently and with dignity as Collation Officers in the 2019 General Elections in the State, the Commission believes that every wrongful act that violates and threatens the sanctity of the ballot must be punished.
“This should be a lesson and a clear message to all ad hoc Staff, particularly those that would be engaged as Supervising Presiding Officers (SPOs) and Collation/Returning Officers in future elections in this State as well as other places where the Commission would be conducting elections in the days and months ahead.
“Poll Officials must observe the highest principles of ethical standards required of them”.
It continued that, “similarly, the Commission in the exercise of its statutory powers to appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over its staff, has dismissed three (3) members of staff of the Commission in Akwa Ibom State office who were involved in misconduct during the elections.
“They had appeared before the Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee (APDC) of the Commission that found them culpable of acts of gross misconduct and accordingly dismissed them in line with extant rules.
“It would be recalled that prior to the 2019 general elections, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini Esq, had repeatedly warned all electoral personnel, both permanent and ad hoc, to shun acts likely to compromise the electoral process and undermine the efforts of the Commission and the confidence of the electorate.
“He had stressed on several occasion that the Commission, under his watch, would take all administrative and legal actions against any and all who deviate from established electoral guidelines and principles”.