Senator-elect for Ikot Ekpene District (Akwa Ibom North-West), Chris Ekpenyong, has warned former Governor Godswill Akpabio to stop the campaign of blackmail and intimidation against the duly constituted election tribunal currently trying the case in Uyo.
Speaking in an interview in Uyo at the weekend, he said Akpabio should be charged for contempt “for continuing to stampede the tribunal with a view to forcing it to change the course of justice”.
Ekpenyong, former deputy governor of the state between 1999 and 2005, who stood in for the contest on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), defeated incumbent Senator Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 23, 2019 elections.
But Akpabio, currently contesting the outcome of the exercise, has alleged that the authority of the tribunal was denying his counsels unfettered access to inspect the ballot materials used in the conduct of the polls.
According to Akpabio, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, compromised and rigged the election in favour of the PDP.
But Ekpenyong, who defeated him with over 118,000 votes faulted the allegation, saying the REC, Igini, imbibed best practices in the conduct and delivery of the polls in the state.
“Akpabio has never won any free and fair election on a level playing field since 2007 when he became the governor of this state because I was one of the 57 aspirants that stood the election with him and I knew he did not win.
“I only had to allow peace a chance so people wouldn’t begin to think I was fighting my brother from the same Federal Constituency, so I had to concede and move on thinking he would deploy the wealth of the state to address the challenges of underdevelopment plaguing the rural communities and the poor people of the state.
“The election has been won and lost and this is the best elections ever conducted in the state since 2007. Therefore, for him to have accused Igini, a man of excellent track-record in public service over the years to have compromised, even when the people actually voted for those they wanted, is the height of blackmail.”