Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

An Abuja High court has rejected a move to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to redeploy the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, away from the state.

The ex parte injunction was sought by Mr. Stanley Okpara and had INEC and Igini as first and second respondents respectively.

Recently, chieftains of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC called for the redeployment of Mr. Igini after they accused him of not being straight in his duties. Other independent stakeholders, however, have praised Igini’s commitment to justice.

Justice O.A. Musa in rejecting the ex parte determined on February 28 ruled thus: “After listening to the applicant counsel move in terms and read through the affidavit in support of the interim relief sought herein, I am of the view that the reliefs are one which a court will grant at the end of a trial and not ex-parte.

“Again when I considered the relief in the originating summon, it seeks to declare the 2nd defendant unfit to hold the position of Resident Electoral Commissioner in Nigeria and consequently remove him from the said office.

“This exparte in my view is an attempt to get judgment through the back door. When RECs are posted to states they plan the election in those states and when they are removed by court arbitrarily it may scuttle elections in those places.

“It appears from the before me that the 2nd defendant is the REC in Akwa Ibom State, if I grant this application, it may spell doom to INEC’s plan for free and credible election.

“For the above reason, it’s only fair that he remains in his position till I determine the originating summons.”

With that, the judge turned the request for an interim order for Igini to be removed and ordered that the status quo be maintained pending further hearing on March 21

Stakeholders in the upcoming elections in Akwa Ibom have called on INEC to obey the court order in order to avoid disrupting the upcoming elections in the state. Stakeholders who have worked closely with Igini in the past attested to his integrity when The Lagosian spoke to them. They said he is a Resident Electoral Commissioner par-excellence, one that other REC’s should emulate.

They said Igini had done a good job so far and they believe he will do everything possible to ensure the elections are free and fair. Journalists from other publications have in the past described Igini as INEC’s encyclopedia of electoral information and an asset to the commission.

On March 5, 2019, Forty-four political parties vouched for the integrity of Mr. Mike Igini. The parties under the aegis of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) also passed a vote confidence on Igini saying they will swim and sink with Igini despite attempts to remove him as Akwa Ibom REC.

In a statement by IPAC’s legal adviser, Mr. Mfon Peters, the 44 political parties alleged that several attempts were made to lure the REC against the will of the people during the presidential and senatorial elections but he “chose his integrity instead”.

IPAC applauded what it described an unbending noble character displayed by Igini in the face of intimidation and fat offers which they said played out in Ikot Ekpene.

“We applaud the unbending noble character of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, in the test offered by the scenario that played out at Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District elections. Despite monetary inducement, connection, influence and power play, Igini was uncompromising.

“He insisted that only the valid votes cast at the polling units and collated by the designated officers will count. This did not go down well with some political gladiators who hitherto thought that what money cannot do, more money can do.”

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