Despite the withdrawal of Senator Godswill Akpabio and his party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) from the Essien Udim rerun elections, there was a heavy security presence at Independence High School, Ukana West, Essien Udim, the polling unit of Senator Akpabio.
The armed thugs barred journalists and persons without Permanent Voters Cards from entering the gate of the school and one photo journalist, Godwin Sunday, was brutalized and his camera destroyed by thugs at the gate.
Recall that Akpabio and his party, the All Progressives Congress(APC) had on Friday withdrawn from the rerun, citing perceived bias by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) led by its resident electoral commissioner in the state, Mr. Mike Iginis.
But voting was going on smoothly in the three polling units located within the premises of the Independence High School, Ukana West and other units visited.
Peoples Democratic Party stalwart and Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio said he called for the deployment of security personnel because of the plan by the APC to hijack election materials.
However, Mr. Godswill Akpabio in a press statement signed by his press secretary, Anietie Ekong distanced himself from any irregularity or violence at the rerun election in Essien Udim local government area.
He said his decision and that of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stay away from the supplementary election was sacrosanct, and therefore should not be linked to the exercise in any way.
The statement reads, “The news flying about linking Senator Godswill Akpabio to any rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area is fake.
“It is well known that because of higher national responsibilities as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio had withdrawn his candidature from the said election. He was replaced by the APC with Obong Emem Ekperikpe Ekpo.
“The other candidates who were scheduled for the elections, Rt Hon Nse Ntuen and Rt. Hon Emmanuel Akpan have written to announce their withdrawal from the elections.
“And just yesterday, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Hon Ini Okopido at a widely publicized press conference announced that the APC will not participate in the rerun elections.
“So on what basis would any sane human being link Senator Akpabio to whatever is happening in Essien Udim Local Government Area.
“As I write Senator Akpabio is not even in Essien Udim. He’s in Uyo. He has no interest whatsoever in what is going on there and had advised his supporters to heed the call of the State APC and boycott the elections”, he said.
Ekong in the statement said reliable information indicate that there is a plot by the PDP to use it’s thugs to cause mayhem and link it to Akpabio, who is not even at Essien Udim.
“We have however gathered that PDP some sponsored thugs were planning to carry out a sinister plot during the rerun elections and link it to Senator Akpabio. Security agencies should be on the watch out for miscreants and sponsored thugs, apprehend them and visit the full weight of the law on them.
“We urge the general public to ignore infantiYe propaganda linking Senator Akpabio to anything that is going on in Essien Udim LGA in the name of rerun elections,” he added.