AKWA IBOM TRIBUNALS: HAS MIKE IGINI BEEN VINDICATED?
When Mike Igini was sent to Akwa Ibom State, and he relocated over 22 polling units from politicians compound and homes to public places that voters could access, hell was let loose. Those who were alien to truth and fairness began to wail and yell, calling for his redeployment. For weeks, campaigns of calumny and series of protests were made for him to be redeployed. But those who sent him to the state paid deaf ear to such satanic calls. On one particular occasion, media aides of a serving senator and former Governor of the state, were up in the media, celebrating that Igini has been transferred, a news which turned out false.
The recent judgments of the Election Petition Tribunal, from the governorship to senate elections, and from House of Representatives to the State House of Assembly elections are clear testaments to the fact that Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC)for Akwa Ibom may have been vindicated afterall. Of all judgements passed, none of the elections he conducted has been overturned which is consistent with his records of elections he conducted in the past. A total of 34 petitions were filed and the tribunal upheld all elections conducted by him and dismissed all the petitions. Not even one upturned. This is a feat that perhaps deserves mention in the Guiness Book of Records.
Prior to the beginning of the tribunal hearing, Barr. Igini cleared every doubt about INEC’s position and expected neutrality in the cases. In his exact words, the REC assured “both petitioners and respondents of INEC’s co-operation in availing all parties with relevant certified true copies of documents required to pursue their matters in the Tribunal. No election materials used in the just concluded election was destroyed as was alleged mischievously. No institution or electoral body with a veener of integrity would shy away from giving account of how it made returns when called upon to do so . The Commission has not awarded a partisan trophy to anyone that must be defended at all cost by the Commission’s legal team as an aggrieved party, rather as an impartial umpire. As a Commission that conducted the election professionally, we are ready and willing to give account of how returns were made in the election and on no account should our legal team do anything to either delay or frustrate proceedings of the tribunal. We are ready to give account of how the elections in Akwa lbom state was conducted”
The above statement was enough to calm nerves and lay tension to rest. All parties presented their cases, and subsequently provided all evidences needed for satisfactory legal proceedings till the day of the final judgement. He made an immaculate clean sheet as all the elections he conducted were upheld by the election petition tribunal as the judgments were given on merit. This has always been the case in all elections he had ever conducted since his emergence as Resident Electoral Commissioner over nine years ago.
This is a confirmation that the name Mike Igini connotes fair play, integrity, dignity, equity and contentment.
Igini is also synonymous to truth, good conscience, perfection, peace and honesty. That name chased sleep away from the eyes of evil doers before, during and after the general elections. Sons and daughters of darkness fidgeted when the name was echoed, and the political doors of hell wore somber look as the name was pronounced.
Mike Igini is a name that resonates integrity, diligence and trust in the political circle of Nigeria. Compromise appears alien to his nature. Modest in his way of life and contented with what he has, a virtue considered to be rare among many. His antecedents speak volume in this regard.
He is one electoral official that has won attestations that power, influence, money and intimidation of incumbency cannot shift him. Going further to dislodge the slogan, “what money cannot do, more money can do”.
Those who have followed him for a long time, believe in his uncompromising stance since his days from school in supporting justice, fair- play and equity in the political arena. From Cross River, Anambra, lmo to Edo, and from Rivers to Akwa Ibom state, the story is the same. Where there are doubts and crisis of trust and confidence over election matters, the name that first comes to mind is Mike Igini, as he has earned trustworthiness over the years.
Promises were made, and Greek gifts offered, but he conscientiously rejected them, and punctuated with a phrase, now a popular quotable quote associated with him (Mike Igini) that “I came to Akwa Ibom to count votes, and not money” bringing out the phrase, Mike, the son of Igini, the REC insisted that all meetings should be held in his office.
It is equally interesting to note that Mike Igini may have deliberately stayed out from Uyo throughout the hearings at the tribunal and subsequent passage of judgment. This was to demonstrate that he had no dealing or compromise with anyone to ensure that every return made sustained. He stayed away after giving all Certified documents required by all parties to give a level playing field to all and went on official leave. This is rare.
On the issue of Essien Udim LGA, no winner was declared as the elections there were marred by violence and other electoral malpractice. It was out of place for any political party to petition any candidate, parties or INEC. The controversy emanated from petitions filed in that regard, which was uncalled for.
On the whole, Mike Igini has kept a clean public service sheet, which generations unborn will be proud of. His life has been punctuated with integrity and good conscience which culminated in the victory he has won for the commission and humanity. With the judgements delivered, has he been vindicated?
Richard Peters is a public affairs analyst and writes from Uyo