Nse Ntuen Certificate of Return:
The Partiality of Electoral Umpire
in Akwa Ibom State
By Peter Udiong
Elections are the foundation of democracy and they do not serve the cause of democracy if they are corrupt; in fact, they give democracy a bad name. With Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ensuring that elections are held with integrity, it helps fulfil the promise of the Declaration and it’s supporting international treaties: a world where government and its institutions are mindful of the inherent dignity and equality of every individual, and respect their right to have a voice in how they are governed.
The ideal and appeal of democracy is found across the world and does not belong to any country, region or culture. It is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,” and that the will of the people “shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.”
At the World Summit in 2005, the Member States of the United Nations reaffirmed that democracy is a universal value.
In Nigeria, Governorship and State Assembly elections were conducted on Saturday, March 9, 2019 and the result was announced in Essien Udim Local Government Headquarters in the full glare of security agencies by the Returning Officer, Professor Ignatius Uduk and Nse Ntuen of APC was appropriately declared winner with a total votes of 47,479 to Esse Umoh’s 6,273 votes and was duly elected as member, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
Again, in the INEC State Headquarters, Uyo, Dr. Nsikan Senam announced the Essien Udim State Assembly elections result that “The APC scored 6,938 votes from the two collated wards to defeat the People Democratic Party (PDP) which had 2,161 votes” and also announced Nse Ntuen of APC as duly elected member, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
There was jubilation everywhere in Essien Udim Local Government immediately result was announced with the winner. To be clear about it, the jubilation was not about APC against PDP. It was a case of one good character, a David, in battle against a Goliath, the PDP as Philistine.
There was an absorbing entertainment of unequalled capacity, the scenes rapidly roll down with the furious intensity of Gurara Water falls. All of it has been tragic and heart-breaking, rather than amusing when Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner told Akwa Ibomites that the Returning Officer announced the result of Essien Udim by duress.
The art of falsehood was sufficiently displayed when Mr. Igini refused to give the winner, Right Honourable Nse Ntuen of APC his certificate of return. So it took Mr. Mike Igini days afterwards to realised that the results were announced under duress without frightening treatment or his family under siege nor state categorically that he was announcing the result under duress.
This is a clear case of electoral bankruptcy by supposed unbiased umpire because such an act of withholding the certificate of a declared winner in an election is not only a clear case of abuse of constitutional power by INEC but a painful denigration of a supposed impartial and unbiased electoral umpire that has now embroiled and tainted with corrupt vestiges of partisan politics.
Obviously, INEC is a creation of law and therefore its actions must at all times be guided and be in conformity with the law. It is strange and highly despicable that on the basis of mere hearsay, INEC will withhold the certificate of return of Right Honourable Nse Ntuen after he has been declared winner by the INEC 2 returning officers. A procedure unknown to law either the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act or the Electoral Guidelines, empowering INEC to withhold the certificate of a candidate in an election that has been declared as winner.
The concern of our people is that, any further delay in the issuance of the certificate of return to Nse Ntuen, in a bid to frustrate his being duly sworn-in as member representing Essien Udim State Constituency, will amount to a serious violation of the people’s right to be represented in government as provided for under laws of the federation of Nigeria which stated inter alia: “Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chose representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law.” So Essien Udim people must not at any time be left without participation or representation in the affairs and government of their state or district. That is the contemplation of the law and practice that the declared winner of an election is first of all sworn in while aggrieved persons over the elections will approach the Tribunal for justice.
As we approach the 29th of May, 2019, followed by the inauguration of the 8th Assembly, it is expected that the certificate of return will be immediately issued to Nse Ntuen so that he will be duly sworn in to represent the good people of Essien Udim as they have expressed by the mandate they have given him through the March 9, 2019 Elections.
There and then, INEC should take the honourable path of the law and truth in this matter and not allow it to be used to breach the right of the people of Essien Udim representation.
Udiong, is a writer and public affairs analyst.