Following the death threat issued by Governor Nyesom Wike to university lecturers listed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as Returning Officers for Saturday, March 19 rerun elections in Rivers state, a coalition of Akwa-Ibom has warned that the governor would be held responsible if one of their own, Dr.Otu Ekpeyong is harmed or killed.
A communiqué released by the group noted that Dr Ekpeyong has been rendering services to INEC on behalf of the university community, including the 2015 general election that produced Governor Wike.
The communiqué was jointly signed by the President of UniPort Chapter of Ibibio Student’s Union, Ukpono Udo; and the President of UniPort Post Graduate chapter of the National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students, Iddy Ekpo.
The communiqué was also signed by the Director of Publicity and Mobilisation of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigeria Youth Alliance, Emem Jackson.
The group noted that Akwa Ibom people are peaceful and law-abiding citizens and would continue to support the Rivers State government to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people as long as Governor Nyesom Wike continues to pilot the affairs of the state without threat, victimization and discrimination among the non-indigenes.
The leadership of the organisation said it received with great displeasure the allegation leveled against one of the illustrious sons of Akwa Ibom State, and wishes to dismiss the claims as unfounded and baseless.
The Coalition of Akwa Ibom State Youth Groups said Dr Ekpeyong was a nonpartisan public servant, adding, however, that the allegation by the Rivers State Governor had exposed him to unnecessary security risk.
The Akwa Ibom State Youth coalition condemned in strong terms the allegation against their son and demand that the Rivers State Governor should ensure the safety of Dr Ekpeyong before, during and after the election.
There’s been reports that Wike had pointedly accused Dr Otu Ekpeyong of the University of Port Harcourt and the management of the University of conniving with Dr Dawari George, a candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Asari Toru and Akuku-Toru constituency to jointly doctor the list of returning officers for the re-run elections.
An allegation that both Dr George and Dr Ekpeyong swiftly denied, describing it as “false”.
Wike made the allegation during a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt while speaking to a delegation from the University of Port Harcourt, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof.Ndowa Laale.
He had warned that lecturers, who would allow themselves to be used by APC chieftains, would face the wrath of Rivers people.
In a meeting the Vice-Chancellor held with 300 lecturers whose names were compiled for the Saturday rerun election Dr Ekpeyong expressed disgust at the weighty allegations against him, describing himself as a man of integrity, who had witnessed many elections in the past and wondered why the governor should suspect that he was planning to rig the March 19 rerun.
“The vice-chancellor gave me a job, which I did to the best of my ability. This (INEC ad hoc employee) is an assignment I have done for over seven years and my integrity has never been in doubt.
“Personally, I am making a decision of not going anywhere (not to be part of the election),” Ekpeyong added.
Another lecturer, Dr. Ben Ihewosira, explained that he was also opting out of the Rivers State rerun, saying the exercise had been politicised.
Similarly, Dr. Abdulrahman Megida, who is a senior lecturer in UNIPORT, specifically demanded that his name be expunged from the list of INEC ad hoc staff for the polls.
“Since my name is synonymous with the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party in the state is PDP, so I opt out”
The VC warned the lecturers who belong to any of the political parties to withdraw.
However, he came stoutly in defense of the integrity of the lecturers who were painstakingly chosen and vouched for.
Source: PM News
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.