Barr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral commissioner (REC) of Akwa Ibom State has disclosed how the Commission tracked hijacked electoral materials during the last general elections in Akwa Ibom State, stating that the Commission had a situation room which tracked any electoral malpractices in the course of the election.
“One of the things we were doing that they didn’t know during the elections is that, in my office at the situatuon room, we were tracking every move in all the polling units in the State.
” They didn’t know that from INEC office we track men, materials and by the time they got to Local Government Areas, we were tracking the EOs to the Ward level. We also had a group of 15 ICT experts in our situation rooms with gadgets and equipments in each Local Government Area.
“I didn’t need to be in any polling unit to observe the process. With our Check-matrix for each Ward, we saw all those who were hijacking materials, some were are our men and I placed a call to some of them that we are seeing them and they were shocked.
“So when we are keeping quiet, they have to be very careful and respectt themselves, because they cannot deny the interactions and other electoral happenings then. Even in the day time we were tracking everybody. We have everything documented of who was doing what and at what point”. Igini warned.
I will resign if found guilty
Barr. Igini also stated that he would resign his position if any contestant in the just concluded elections owns up to secretly conversing or meeting with him in person or by proxy on personal grounds during and after the elections.
The REC threw open the challenge while unearthing controversies generated by the outcome of elections/electoral processes in Akwa Ibom State at the NUJ Press Centre, Uyo, on the occasion of 2019 World Press Freedom Day, with the theme: “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”.
In his keynote address, he said: “I am aware of the disinformation going rounds that; people who won elections, won through connivance, how? If there is just one person who contested election, whoever- won or lost that have ever had one conversation or had any meeting with me either through myself or through any proxy, he should come forward, I will resign. Just one, not two, not three, just one person.
“Since I came into this State on the 5th of September, 2017, I have never stepped into the house of a human being till date, I have never. It has never happened. If there is one person, let him speak Up”. Igini challenged.
Known for his integrity and zero compromise for his constitutional responsibility, Mr. Igini had earlier informed stakeholders in the State on the need of bonding with the people ahead of the general elections/electoral processes as he will not compromise superintending over a free and fair electoral process umder his watch.
“I was clear to everybody when I met all stakeholders that under my watch in Akwa Ibom State, ballot papers and result sheets would be delivered to 29803 polling units of 329 Wards of 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State and it is the will of the people as expressed through the ballots that will be counted and taken into account to determine who becomes the winner of elections.
“When I came to this State on the 5th of September 2017, I made it clear to everyone beacuse the history of Akwa Ibom State, I know it very well. I was in Cross River in 2011, you cannot forget easily what happened in 2011 with the distruction of lives and properties in akwa Ibom State.
“But you see as Noah in the bible, they treated me like Noah, when Noah told the children of God that there will be a great flood, they should prepare, they didn’t take Noah seriously, so I was not taken serious either.
“Although Some took it seriously, they went to engage with the people because I said even if my father or my mother were to contest election and he or she loses, I will decare you as having loss the election clearly with public trust in mind.
“And in preparations, we ensured that all polling units that have been illegally located in private homes were relocated to God knows where” He disclosed.
Speaking in strong terms, Mr. Igini fondly referred to as; “Son of Man” reaffimed that candidates, won elections under a transparent and fair process without any illegal support from any machinary, adding that INEC from its situation room in Uyo was monitoring every move of candidtes, electorial officers and voters.
Democracy and effect of Misinformation
Speaking on democracy and the power of Misinformation, the REC said: “as an advocate of democracy and good governance who at the moment superintend an important pillar of democratic practices, the process of election.
“I am acutely conscious of the key roles the media played in the enthronement, sustenace and continuing efforts at consolidating democracy in Nigeria through periodic elections which is one of the most distinctive hallmarks of democracy that seperates it from other forms of government.
“The media thus act as public protector or guardian angel (of some sort) for society’s sanity and survival by keeping in check by monitoring the exercise of power and authority by those elected or appointed to keep public trust, especially public office holders”. He admonished.
Entreatingly, the REC charged journalists on giving clear cut between opinion and facts in their reportage while embracing investigation as a strategy towards unravelling intentions behind misinformation of the masses as engaged by some groups of political bigots.
“Misinformation will succeed even more where the press fosters rather than dissuade or expose intentional obfuscation of facts, as we continue to witness increasing cases of misinformation, particularly those that are election related. The must be seen as a challenge and the media must do two things, Expose the act, Expose the intentions
“At the root of the deliberate misinformation was the fact that a newly appointed REC and sworned in by the commission who is from this state was posted to Bayelsa as the Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Akwa-Ibom state in INEC was deliberately propagated to be the re-deployment of Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Akwa-Ibom state, a blatant misinformation anchored on a partisan need to meet the desires of a political group for political gain.
“We must not underestimate the power of misinformation particularly with the advent of social media with its inherent disdain for investigation or verification of information before publication, the only remedy against it, is to stick with the facts and expose the intentions, because misinformation can to do serious damage to electoral process.
Media as the Fourth Estate of the Realm
“The media as the fourth realm of the estate should use freedom of expression effectively to guide and protect society,as public protector or guardian angel for society’s sanity and survival by keeping in check by monitoring the exercise of power by those in authority elected or appointed holding public offices in trust.
“To do this, the media must expose acts of misinformation and the motivations for such acts in order to protect and preserve the benefits that democracy and good governance offer”. He encouraged!