Leaders and Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Akwa Ibom State, led by Senator Godswill Akpabio and other candidates for Saturday, 25th January, 2020 scheduled rerun election in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, have reportedly shunned an invitation to a peace meeting by the traditional institution in Essien Udim LGA, where the rerun election to finally decide the authentic Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial zone in the Nigerian Senate, will be determined.

Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had fixed January 25, for the Senatorial rerun in Essien Udim, after the Court of Appeal had, in November 2019, nullified the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial election and called for a rerun in the contentious Essien Udim LGA, following an Appeal by Senator Godswill Akpabio, challenging the victory of incumbent Senator Chris Ekpeyong at the February 23, 2019 National Assembly elections.

The Paramount Ruler and Head of Essien Udim Traditional Rulers Council, Obong Cosmas Akpan, had on Monday, 20th January, invited stakeholders in the electoral process from both PDP and APC to a peace talk at his palace in Ekpenyong Atai 1, ahead of the rerun, but while stakeholders of the PDP honoured the monarch’s invitation, those of the APC reportedly boycotted the peace parley, without allegedly registering any apology.

The motivation to hold a peace summit involving all the participants in the rerun election, by the traditional institutions in Essien Udim, had come in the wake of several developments which had sprang up, chief amongst which are: the appointment of Senator Godswill Akpabio as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari and the decision by Senator Akpabio to withdraw from the rerun race in view on the ground that he now has a national assignment.

The move by the APC to replace/substitute Senator Akpabio with Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo for the rerun election and the firm rejection of the replacement by INEC which insists, through Mike Igini, the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC that there will be no substitution of any of the original candidates for the rerun election, had also been touted as other reasons behind the convening of the peace summit.

Akwa Ibom North West political watchers would recall that the APC stakeholders in area had in 2019, also purportedly rebuffed all summits for peaceful elections in the area by royal fathers and the subsequent Senatorial election had been marred by manifest display of election violence induced allegedly by the “warsaw” slogan which had been synonymous with a particular candidate and had reportedly left scores of electoral officials and voters in pains and tears, culminating in the cancellation of election in Essien Udim by the Court of Appeal.

However, Senator Akpabio and APC leaders absence at the peace summit on Monday, January 20, did not dampen the spirit and intent of the gathering convened by the traditional institution in the area, which incidentally was attended by several PDP stakeholders, an act interpreted by watchers as indicative of their desire for a peaceful exercise on Saturday, January 25, as they have resolved that anyone involved in instigating crises in the area during the rescheduled polls, shall be jinxed by the traditional injunction invoked ahead of the elections.

The Royal Head of the area, Obong Cosmas Akpan, assisted by members of the Traditional Rulers Council during the peace talk, were said to have placed the traditional injunction ‘àyei’, handing same to the PDP stakeholders in attendance, and calling for peace in the land.

The implication of any party fomenting trouble or sponsoring violence during, before and after the election would be disastrous to any one who would violate the injunction which, according to interpreters of Essien Udim tradition, is already binding irrespective of who attended the meeting or not.

It has been alleged that the decision by the APC to boycott the peace talk is not unconnected with the party’s penchant for anything ‘War-Saw, a script they allegedly enacted in Essien Udim during the 2019 election, which literarily translates to a situation where you cause violence and disruption if your are not sure of victory; “Warsaw saw war”.

However, youths of Essien Udim have vowed to resist such violence this time around, should they foment trouble on Saturday.

Youth Caucus Leader in Essien Udim, Mr. Edemekong Aniefiok Christopher and the PDP Youth Chairman, Mr. Raymond Ekpe, warned members of the opposition against any attempt to cause violence and thuggery in Essien Udim, as they would meet stiff resistance by the youths.

The Youth Caucus Chairman, Mr. Edemekong also alerted the public on Minday, of alleged plans by the APC to import thugs into Essien Udim, saying vigilant youths of the area were ready to frustrate their enterprise.

High point of the event was that solemn moment when the Leader of the Traditional Council issued a Traditional Peace Injunction with the presentation of the symbol of peace known as ‘àjei’ through the Political Leader of the area, Akparawa Obong M.A Afangide, to the PDP family, for everlasting peace in the area before, during and after the rerun election.

Others present at the meeting were Executive Chairman of Council, Elder Raphael Isobara; Deputy State Chairman of PDP, Sir Sunyiekekere Inokon; Senatorial Candidate of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Engr Chris Ekpenyong; PDP candidate for Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim and Obot Akara Federal Constituency Rt Hon Nsikak Ekong; Vice Chairman of the Council, Mrs Emem Ekarika; Members of the Legislative Council and Supervisory Councillors led by the Leader, Hon Uduakobong Umoh; Chapter Chairman of PDP and other Chapter and Ward Officers; Former Executive Council Chairman, Hon Martin Umanah; Engr Oliver Ebong, Dr Etido Ibekwe, Sir Lambert Udoh, Sir Lambert Orok, Barr Imowo Okpokpo, Hon Emmanuel Useh and other stakeholders of the Party.

Source report: #akwaibomnewsng