Special Report by Mr Ezenwa Joe Ekwaju, Member of the All Progressives Congress [[APC] Committee for the Governorship Election Primaries for Akwa Ibom State on the Governorship Election Primaries Held in the Uyo Township Stadium on the 4th of December 4, 2014.
The Committee for the Governorship Election Primaries For Akwa Ibom State was set up under the constitution of the All Progressives Congress to conduct Primaries for the election of the Governorship candidate of our great party, the APC in Akwa Ibom State. The election was to hold in the Uyo Township stadium in Akwa Ibom State. The Committee’s task was regulated under the Guidelines of the Party for Primaries. The Guidelines were deliberately made to ensure free, fair and credible election satisfactory to both the Aspirants in the election and reasonable party members participating or observing the election.
For example, our Panel was directed under the Guidelines to start accreditation of delegates for the election at 8 am and conclude by 12 noon. This was to be the situation even if delegates turned up after 12 noon. The Panel was to go on with the election without such delegates.
Sadly, our Panel did not comply with this directive. Our Panel commenced accreditation at 1pm and never ended. We could not commence election until when it became night and visibility was so poor for the mammoth crowd of delegates who were still waiting outside the Uyo township stadium. The delegates came from the 31 Local Government Areas of the State, not up to half the Local Government were accredited.
To compound the situation, the accreditation itself was anything but peaceful. The policemen invited by our Panel to maintain order became ready tools in the hands of some persons explained to us by other delegates, to be agents of some aspirants.
The police shot live bullets randomly causing constant stampede which mercifully did not lead to death of delegates. But the level of injuries sustained by delegates would not be acceptable. At least one of them was shot in the eye so grotesquely. I did not think mere accreditation of delegates for election called for such level of violence I witnessed at that ill-fated primary.
Many delegates were randomly beaten. In the fracas, the Secretary of our Panel lost his phone. Teargas was freely used. Delegates kept running helter skelter. A man said to be the Uyo Zonal Vice Chairman of the APC was so badly tear-gassed that we had to deploy six bottles of water to revive. Mrs Rachel Akpabio, the South – South Zonal Woman Leader of our Party who sat by me in the seating arrangement also witnessed the violence first hand.
I was not surprised when one of the contestants’ Agents eventually protested that the elections could not be conducted under such violent and perverted atmosphere. They pointed out that the architect of the violence was one of the contestants and that he had infiltrated the Primaries with hoodlums and PDP members. They protested that lawful delegates had been locked out by him and his supporter police and State Security Orderlies. (Many of his supporters, I was informed were former government functionaries who still kept their security details).
In fact, they there and then formally submitted a petition to the Chairman of the Panel asking for the cancellation of the accreditation. Our chairman refused to receive and acknowledge the letter asking them to participate in the election first and protest latter. One of the leader of the APC in the State and one of the contestants, who came into the venue at that time met thousands of delegates outside unaccredited. But as he walked in, the entire stadium rose in his support and staged a walk out. As the stadium was emptying and all the gates were thrown open, a few people on the main road around the stadium rushed inside. And surprisingly, one of our members, asked them to queue up and without any more accreditation, be counted as in option A4 so he could at least announce a result.
After the counting exercise votes were allocated in the following order and announced as the official result of the Primaries. Mr Umana was credited with over 2444 votes when there were hardly any persons left in the stadium whilst Senator Udoedehe was awarded 6 votes. Sam Ewang was allocated 1 vote while Emmanuel Ekpeyoung was given 2 votes. Part of our Panel went for Option A4 with the virtual empty stadium, with full knowledge that our Guidelines recommended open-secret ballot, to which the Party had committed huge funds in printing of ballot papers. This, I vehemently rejected, a rejection that almost cost my life.
Back in the official vehicle we were assigned by the Party in Uyo, I found that none of my Panel members joined me. Instead, they boarded Mr Umana Umana’s vehicle and were driven out. One man, then approached me in my vehicle with several men, armed with violent weapons in tow and ordered that I be literally thrown out of our vehicle, a feat which the hoodlums did not waste time in doing. It is with severe trauma that I therefore pen this Report and hope it will guide our great party in spite of the majority Report of our Panel, in resolving the Akwa Ibom primaries, which in my opinion was a great show of shame and a horrible travesty.
Mr Ezenwa Joe Ekwuaju
Member of Committee