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OPPOSITION TACKLES C'RIVER HOUSE OVER PLOT AGAINST IGINI

By NBF News
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OPPOSITION parties in Cross River State have risen against the move by members of the House of Assembly to have Mr. Mike Igini removed as the state's Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

The House had accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC's) chief of mismanaging the voters' registration exercise in Bakassi Local Council, and, therefore, sought his removal.

But the opposition political parties and some eminent indigenes have vowed to resist the move, declaring that 'Igini stands for the truth and he is their last hope for fair polls in the state'.

Late on Tuesday, the Assembly met and after a prolonged debate, resolved in a motion read by the Deputy Speaker, Dominic Aqua Edem, that 'the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, should immediately redeploy Igini as his continuous stay in office would affect the conduct of free and fair elections'.

According to them, Igini did not recognise the Cross River State Law No. 7, 2007, which is pursuant to Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution, adjusting the boundaries of Akpabuyo and Bakassi local councils, which they claimed placed Bakassi Local Council in the former Ikang wards of Ikang-North, Ikang Central and Ikang-South and the wards therein delineated and named numerically wards one to 10 being recognised by INEC.

They said his action led to a crisis between the Ikang people and the Bakassi returnees. The just concluded voters' registration was alleged to have been scarcely done in Bakassi for only three days of the three-week exercise.

A member of the Assembly, Mr. George Etchi during the debate on the matter, said: 'The people of Bakassi are part and parcel of the entity called Bakassi and they pay their taxes from which people like Mike Igini are paid their salaries. Yet the man who was sent to a state to carry out an assignment to protect the people came to undo us'.

But in a swift reaction, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) comprising the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Labour Party (LP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), African Renaissance Party (ARP), Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) said 'a call for the REC to go is part of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP's) plot to rig the April general elections'.

'Our stand is that Mike Igini must be allowed to do his job. We want one-man-one-vote and the greatest threat to democracy is the PDP, that is why they do not want honest and straight forward men to be in charge.'

The state Chairman of the ACN, Mr. Cletus Obun, the Deputy National Secretary of the CPC, Okoi Ofem Obun-Obla and the governorship candidate of the LP, Mr. Theo Onyuku, accused the House of working against the interest of the people.

'They cannot pass a resolution calling for the transfer or removal of the REC. We know they are angry because he (Igini) said there were no PDP primaries in the state. We have absolute confidence in INEC as led by Jega and Igini in the state. INEC, for once since 1999, has given us hope to stop the charlatans and imposters'.