Obudu bye-election: APC candidate heads to court as INEC Presents Certificate Of Return To Abbey Ukpukpen

Mr. Ishamali Bendebel

The All Progressive Congress, APC candidate in the August 11 Obudu state constituency bye-election, Mr. Ishamali Bendebel has rejected the result by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which declared the PDP Abbey Ukpukpen winner of the election.

Bendebel in a statement said he was heading to court to challenge the result as the election was charade and complete failure of all electoral process.

He accused the INEC and the Police of conniving with PDP thugs to snatch ballot boxes, harass, intimate as well as arresting APC members in the election.

According to him "I wish to state categorically that, the August 11 State House of Assembly election in Obudu was a charade and a complete failure of all electoral practices even by Nigerian standards. The election was characterized by

Snatching of ballot boxes by PDP thugs through the instrumentality of men of F-SARS; in Urban Ward 1, Ipong Ward, Alege Ubang ward, Ukpe ward and parts of Begiading ward, which they used to thumbprint freely.

Massive arrest of APC members and some are still in detention till now by men of F-SARS, with trumped up charges.

Beating and shooting of some our supporters. One Miss Eunice Igbaji who was shot at the resident of Barr. Venatius Ikem has just been discharged from Obudu, Clinic.

Harassment, intimidation and disruption of voting in APC strongholds by PDP thugs through the instrumentality of men of F-SARS, especially at Urban I, The APC candidates ward".

He added that "All complains to the REC (Resident Electoral Commissioner) and the Police on this open misconduct by the men of F-SARS, INEC and PDP thugs fell on deaf ears; Instead the returning officers proceeded to cancel elections in 28 units across the 10 wards where APC won, thereby allotting the elections to PDP".

Continuing, he said that "After due consultations with party leaders and our teeming supporters, with detailed assessment of the entire exercise that was a total flop, I hereby reject the results and will take all necessary and legitimate steps to address this institutional rigging by a combination of the Cross River State Police Command and the active connivance of INEC before, during and after the voting proper".

In related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented the certificate of return to the winner of the election, Mrs. Abbey Ukpukpen.

Mrs. Ukpukpen, a widow of the former lawmaker, Honorable Stephen Ukpukpen whose death necessitated the bye-election was declared winner after polling 12,712 votes which was over 8,300 more than that of the runner up.
Abbey Ukpukpen receiving certificate of return from the REC

And, while presenting the certificate of return which authenticates her win on Thursday in Calabar, the INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State, Dr. Frankland Briyai explained the importance of the exercise and urged her to reciprocate the goodwill shown to her by her constituents while calling on other candidates to support her in the spirit of good sportsmanship.

“The issuance of Certificate of return is one of the most crucial mandates of the commission as enshrined in section 75 subsection 1 of the electoral act 2010 as amended. This section of the electoral act states, ‘a seal certificate of return at an election in a prescribed form shall be issued to every candidate who has won an election under the act.

“The certificate of return confirms the winner of the election. That is, it is not enough to be declared a winner in an election. Until the certificate is issued, such a person cannot assume office,” Briayi said, and adjudged the bye-elections to be “credible, free, fair and violent free.”

Addressing the lawmaker elect, Briyai urged her to, “exhibit high sense of responsibility in the discharge of her duties while in office in order to uphold the confidence reposed in her by the electorate,” while enjoining the other contestants to, “display the spirit of sportsmanship by working together for the upliftment of the land and people of Obudu.”

In her remarks, Mrs. Ukpukpen who called for a minute silence in honor of her late husband, commended Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade and his family for his benevolence towards her family.

Also, she lauded the efforts of stakeholders in the People’s Democratic Party and her constituents for giving her the opportunity to serve them and pledged to live by the ideals of her late husband.

“I want to thank the people of Obudu state constituency for giving me an opportunity to serve them after my late husband passed, and I will reciprocate this gesture with all the ideals and legacies my late husband believed in,” she said and commended INEC for being “a good umpire and for conducting a free and fair election.”

Mrs. Ukpukpen swearing-in will take the number of female representatives in the 25-man assembly to four, making it the highest in the history of the state.
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