By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Akwa Ibom state high court, Uyo, yesterday granted bail to Professor Ignatius Uduk who is standing trial for alleged involvement in electoral fraud during the 2019 general polls.
The presiding Judge, Justice Archibong Archibong admitted the accused/applicant to bail in the sum of N500,000 with a surety in the like sum.
Archibong, added that the surety must present evidence of ownership of landed property, and a letter of identification from a prominent citizen of Akwa Ibom state who is working or doing business within the state.
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He also noted that the surety must reside within the jurisdiction of the court and must present two recent passport photographs dully certified to be his true photograph.
He submitted that whereas the accused/applicant presented cogent and sufficient materials to convince the court to grant him bail, the respondent (Independent National Electoral Commission), who opposed his bail failed to present facts sufficient or any superior argument to convince the court on why the applicant should be denied bail.
He said, “That being the case I hereby rule that the applicant is entitled to bail pending the determination of the charge against him. Consequently I order as follows; that the applicant be admitted to bail in the sum of N500,000 and a surety in the like sum.
“The above information is to be verified by the assistant director in charge of this court and confirmed by the prosecuting counsel before the applicant maybe released from custody upon fulfilment of the bail condition”
Justice Archibong ordered for accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter till January 11 -14 2021.
Addressing newsmen ,Mr. Emmanuel Eze, Principal Legal Officer of INEC said, ” The court has granted the applicant bail with conditions attached to it. The Court has spoken and you don’t question court decision. If you are not satisfied you can go on appeal”
He added that “if INEC says I go on and appeal, I will appeal. I am at the service of the Commission. But if the Commission says no let’s continue with the trial which has been adjourned to January 11, we will come back and continue”.
While responding to a question on whether he was satisfied with the bail conditions , Lawyer to the accused, Abasiediong Ekpenyong, simply responded, “The conditions in my opinion are liberal, and just in the circumstance of the case. And the accused person is ready to defend himself”
Recall that Professor Uduk, of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) who was a Collation and Returning Officer for the State House of Assembly election in Essien Udim state constituency was arraigned by INEC, December, 9, 2020 for alleged involvement in electoral fraud during the 2019 polls
He was arraigned on a three- count charge, which included perjury, lying on oath, and which is contrary to section 119, subsection 1 of the criminal code law, of the laws of Akwa Ibom state 2000.