As the 2019 general elections are building up, the Civil Society Organisations forum in Akwa Ibom State has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure free, fair and violent free elections in the State.
The Chairman of the group, Mr. Harry Udoh who stated this on Thursday while interacting with journalists in Uyo said the call became expedient due to the glaring irregularities which had marred previous elections in the state.
According to him, “You will recall that successive elections in Akwa Ibom State have always fallen short of the yearnings and expectations of the people as they have been fraught with irregularities, massive rigging, ballot stuffing, voter intimidations and violence leading to fatalities.
“We have had situations where winners were already known before elections actually took place. There were even instances where election materials were handed over to political party representatives.”
Udoh maintained that such activity not only disenfranchised the citizens from performing their civic responsibility of voting but had made them develop apathy in governance.
He, however, expressed hope that with Mr.Mike Igini being the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, that the 2019 elections in the state would be credible.
“We have received assurances that there would be indeed free and fair elections in Akwa Ibom State in 2019. We are further persuaded by the track record and proven integrity of the current Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state” he said.
Udoh also lauded the INEC for the profiling of polling units in the state where about 22 polling units were wrongly sited at politicians’ private homes and were immediately relocated to public places where people can have access to.
He, therefore, called on the people of the state to exploit the opportunity of the ongoing voter display at all polling units to ascertain the authenticity of the voter register, warning politicians against unguarded statements during their campaigns.