SSS Seal Press For Printing Specimen Ballot Papers In Akwa Ibom
UYO, April 13, (THEWILL) – Operatives of the State Security Services, (SSS) Akwa Ibom State command Tuesday sealed off a printing press where samples of ballot papers were allegedly being printed in the Eket council area of the state.
THEWILL checks revealed that a team of security operatives acting on a tip off had stormed the printing outfit located at 48 Afaha Uqua Road, Eket with a search warrant and removed printing plates and some printed ballot papers.
The ballot papers, as gathered were meant for voter education; ahead the State Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2o11.
The armed SSS team numbering about 15 which raided the press in two vehicles with registration numbers AG 654 UYY, and AP 586 UYY arrested one personnel.
It was further revealed that the printing firm, Leats Concepts Ltd, is owned by one Chief Emmanuel Edoho, a PDP Chieftain who was actively involved in the party’s electioneering process and served as a party agent in Saturday’s National Assembly polls. He was also arrested alongside the manager of the printing outfit.
When THEWILL visited the printing press on Wednesday, we observed that the press was under locks, while members of staff who fled when the security men invaded the firm regrouped to discuss the incident.
Parading one of those detained fallowing the raid before newsmen in Uyo Wednesday, SSS Director Mr. Toma Menti claimed that he was working on the theory that he may have had the intention to use the specimen ballot papers to rig his way back to the state House of Assembly in the April, 26 election.
But the House member, Mr. Bassey Willie, who recently defected to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from ruling PDP after he lost a second term nomination on the party’s platform, explained that the ballot papers were merely specimen which he intended to use for public enlightenment and voter education.
He further explained that his decision to print the specimen came on the heels that most of his supporters who identify him with PDP were confused about the CPC logo and its location on the ballot paper.
“My motive was not to use the ballot papers to rig elections as suspected,” he stressed.
Corroborating Willie’s explanation, the owner of the press, Chief Edoho admitted that the lawmaker had instructed them to print 12,000 samples of ballot papers with a stamp “SPECIMEN” embossed on each paper which he said would have been more visible if the final stage of the printing process has been completed before the SSS raid.
He also disclosed that Willie had paid N170, 000 for the printing.