The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Akwa Ibom State has dragged President Bola Tinubu to court for allegedly appointing a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The suit was filed by the Chairman and Secretary of the State PDP, Aniekan Akpan and Harrison Ekpo, respectively.
The party is challenging the choice of Etekamba Umoren as the REC for the State.
Recall that the Senate, on Wednesday, confirmed the appointments of seven out of 10 RECs forwarded to it on Tuesday by the President, which included Umoren.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/146/2023 filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the plaintiffs listed as defendants are Tinubu, the Senate and Umoren.
The plaintiffs attached to their originating summons coloured photographs of Umoren on campaign grounds wearing the APC clothes and also clips of him in APC dresses campaigning for the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio.
The opposition party chieftains are urging the court to declare that “the 1st defendant, President Tinubu, cannot present the 3rd defendant, Umoren, to the 2nd defendant, Senate, for confirmation as REC for Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria”.
They are seeking a court declaration that “the appointment of the 3rd defendant as REC for Akwa Ibom State is unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void ab initio and of no effect whatsoever”.
The plaintiffs want the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the Senate from allowing, permitting and/or confirming Umoren as a REC and a further injunction restraining Umoren from acting, assuming the office and/or parading himself as a REC for Akwa Ibom State”.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Meanwhile, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, addressed the press in Abuja on Thursday, stating that the opposition party was opposed to the choice of Umoren as Akwa Ibom State REC.
Ologunagba alleged that Umoren’s appointment was a plot by the ruling party to manipulate future polls and perpetuate itself in power.
The PDP scribe said: “Of particular concern is the brazen imposition of a card-carrying member and prominent leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Etekamba Umoren, as the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, despite the loud and widespread outcry and rejection by Nigerians, and particularly our party, the PDP, and the people of Akwa Ibom State.
“The PDP, therefore, in clear and unequivocal terms rejects the imposition of Umoren as INEC REC for the State being conceived in iniquity and in flagrant violation of the express provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, the Electoral Act, 2022 and the universal demand of impartiality and non-partisanship of an electoral body and its officials”.
Ologunagba characterized Umoren’s appointment as a serious attack on the integrity of the electoral process and INEC’s standing as a democratic institution.
He pointed out that the APC leadership had given Umoren a mission that included using the REC office to allegedly compromise sensitive procedures, materials, and systems, such as voter registration, card collection, voter register doctoring, electoral constituency delineation, and coercion of INEC staff. The PDP is aware of this mission.
Ologunagba declared Umoren’s appointment as provocative and vexatious defilement of the independence, integrity and credibility of the electoral system.
“Umoren should therefore steer clear of INEC office in Akwa Ibom State. President Tinubu should immediately commence the process of appointing a neutral Resident Electoral Commissioner for the State so as to avert crisis and illegitimacy in future elections in the state”, he said.