IN August 2018, Etekemba Umoren, now appointed a Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) from Akwa Ibom State, underwent what could best be described as an induction into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), video evidence confirming his strong tie to the ruling party and open partisanship he has shown.
The event was overseen by the current Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who then recently defected to the ruling party.
During the rally in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Akpabio welcomed Mr Umoren and other members of the state executive council of Udom Emmanuel, who are defecting to the APC in a show of loyalty to their principal, Mr Akpabio.
“From today have you accepted that Akwa Ibom State should become APC and that old things have passed away?” Mr Akpabio asked Mr Umoren on stage as he handed him a broom, the emblem of the APC.
“If you say so, collect the broom, wave to the crowd here and tell them they’re in safe hands.”
Mr Umoren collected the broom, shook it vigorously to the crowd and chanted the party’s slogan. “APC! APC! Akwa Ibom, you are in safe hands,” he told the audience, still shaking the broom.
Five years later, in defilement of the Constitution, President Bola Tinubu appointed Mr Umoren a REC from Akwa Ibom State despite the clear prohibition of appointing partisan persons to the electoral commission.
“A member of the Commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity,” Paragraph 14 (2), Item F, third schedule of the 1999 Constitution states.
The Senate led by Mr Akpabio, who inducted Mr Umoren into the party, upheld the illegality by confirming his appointment.
Another member of his party appointed to the Commission is Isah Shaka, the REC from Edo State.
Meanwhile, two others are found to be long-time loyalists of Mr Tinubu and his Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.
While Bunmi Omoseyindemi, the newly appointed Lagos State REC had enjoyed Mr Tinubu’s political patronage, the newly appointed Rivers State REC, Anugbum Onuoha, is a long-time ally and a relative of Mr Wike.
Poor attempt at denial
Despite the abundance of evidence that the illegally appointed REC from Akwa Ibom State is a member of the ruling APC, the party is attempting to sway public opinion by denying his membership.
Leading a group of party members to address a press conference on Sunday, Eseme Eyiboh, the spokesperson to Mr Akpabio claimed Mr Umoren was not a member of the ruling party.
Mr Eyiboh, who said he was speaking on behalf of the party leaders in Akwa Ibom State, noted that Mr Umoren appearing in APC regalia, does not automatically imply he was a member of the party.
He was silent about the video that showed Mr Umoren chanting the APC slogan as he brandished the party’s emblem, a broom, in public.
Mr Eyiboh claimed Mr Umoren was a bureaucrat and not a politician, adding that his service as a permanent secretary, chief of staff and then secretary to the state government was to the government and not to a political party.
He said: “The member of a political party must be not just a card-carrying member, he must be in financial standing with that political party. He must be among the registered members and prescription has nothing to do with uniform or mode of dressing.”
He added: “I have also seen that he wore the uniform of APC. The law is very strict and there is a plethora of Supreme Court judgments on who is a member of a political party.
“For you to take an ordinary mode of dressing – the member of an organisation is not determined by their clothing by the membership of that organisation. Every organisation has its criteria for its membership.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Otoabasi Udo, said what Mr Eyiboh disclosed at the press briefing is the position of the APC in the state.
“He is an APC person. He is the spokesperson for the Senate President who is an APC member. What he is saying is not out of the position of the APC,” Mr Udo told PREMIUM TIMES.
Credit: The Page News