The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vehemently rejected the Senate’s confirmation of Etekamba Umoren as the Resident Electoral Officer (REC), asserting that he is a well-known All Progressives Congress (APC) leader in Akwa Ibom State,leadership report.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Hon Debo Ologunaba, contended that Umoren has actively participated in APC campaigns and has consistently advanced APC’s interests in past elections. Ologunaba further argued that Umoren’s confirmation flagrantly violates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022, and the fundamental requirement of impartiality and non-partisanship for electoral officials.
During a press conference in Abuja, Ologunaba stated that Umoren’s appointment was imposed upon the people of Akwa Ibom State, and his continued tenure as the state’s electoral officer is likely to create tension.
The PDP spokesperson contended that Umoren’s nomination reveals a “dangerous design” by the APC to perpetuate its hold on power by manipulating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ologunaba emphasized that Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022, explicitly bars partisan individuals like APC’s Etekamba Umoren from holding any position within INEC. This provision is vital for safeguarding INEC’s independence, impartiality, and non-partisanship in the electoral process.
He expressed concerns that Umoren’s violation of this critical provision undermines INEC’s credibility and the integrity of the electoral process. The PDP is aware of Umoren’s alleged mission, assigned by APC leadership, to exploit his role as the REC to compromise vital processes and systems, including voter registration, voter card collection, manipulation of the voter register, delineation of electoral constituencies, and coercion of INEC staff. These actions are seen as laying the groundwork for APC to manipulate future elections in Akwa Ibom State.
The PDP warned that Umoren’s imposition as a REC is a provocative affront to the independence, integrity, and credibility of the electoral system. It could lead to unrest and a breakdown of law and order in Akwa Ibom State if not addressed promptly.
Ologunaba underscored that any election supervised by Umoren would face legitimacy issues because it contravenes the Electoral Act, 2022.
Furthermore, the PDP argued that Umoren’s appointment contradicts the intent and purpose of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which aims to promote national unity and loyalty in federal agencies, particularly sensitive agencies like INEC.
The PDP also mentioned that Umoren had reportedly faced allegations of misappropriating billions of Naira belonging to Akwa Ibom State during his service in the state. A REC should be a non-partisan individual of high integrity who instills confidence in the electorate and enhances the legitimacy of elections under their supervision. Therefore, the PDP urged Umoren to step aside from the INEC office in Akwa Ibom State and called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to promptly appoint a neutral Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state to prevent future crises and legitimacy issues in state elections.