Some of the 300 lecturers from the University of Port Harcourt, who are among those listed as ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the state and National Assembly rerun in Rivers State, may shun the March 19 exercise over an alleged threat by the State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The lecturers, who met with the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ndowa Lale, on Monday, said their decision to stay away from the exercise was as a result of the statement credited to the governor.
Wike had reportedly alerted Lale of a list allegedly induced by the All Progressives Congress with the aim of rigging the rerun through the imposition of politically-compromised returning officers.
The governor had also alleged that one Dr. Otu Ekpeyong and an APC chieftain in Asari-Toru connived to draw up a list of returning officers from UNIPORT with the aim of rigging the polls.
He had warned that lecturers, who would allow themselves to be used by APC chieftains, would face the wrath of Rivers people.
But Ekpeyong described himself as a man of integrity, who had witnessed many elections in the past and wondered why the governor should suspect that he was planning to rig the March 19 rerun.
Ekpeyong told the gathering of over 300 lecturers that attended the meeting with the vice-chancellor that he had taken a personal decision not to be part of the election.
“The vice-chancellor gave me a job, which I did to the best of my ability. This (INEC ad hoc employee) is an assignment I have done for over seven years and my integrity has never been in doubt.
“Personally, I am making a decision of not going anywhere (not to be part of the election),” Ekpeyong added.
Another lecturer, Dr. Ben Ihewosira, explained that he was also opting out of the Rivers State rerun, saying the exercise had been politicised.
Similarly, Dr. Abdulrahman Megida, who is a senior lecturer in UNIPORT, specifically demanded that his name be expunged from the list of INEC ad hoc staff for the polls.
“My name is synonymous with the All Progressives Congress and you know that the government here is PDP. Based on that, I want my name to be expunged from the list,” he said.
Earlier, Lale advised the lecturers to stay away from the election if they were not sure of contributing to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
The VC pointed out that since INEC had not faulted the list, he would not withdraw it, adding that doing otherwise would mean authenticating the allegations against the lecturers, whose names were on the list.