By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State, yesterday concluded its prosecution at the State High Court, Ikot Ekpene, in the case of electoral fraud during the 2019 general elections levelled against Professor Peter Ogban.
Professor Ogban was among the two lecturers of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) who acted as Collation/Returning officers, INEC had dragged to Court for alleged fraud in elections conducted in Akwa Ibom NorthWest (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial district in 2019.
It could be recalled that INEC had on November 18, 2020, arraigned Professor Peter Ogban before State High Court, Ikot Ekpene on a two-count charge bordering on manipulation and falsification.
Ogban who was Collation/Returning Officer for the Akwa Ibom NorthWest National Assembly election was alleged to have manipulated the scores of two political parties, falsified and announced fake results in Etim Ekpo and Oruk Anam local government areas, which is an offence punishable under section 1 and section 123 (4) of the Electoral Act as amended.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, January 25, 2021, at State High Court Ikot Ekpene, the Prosecution Counsel, Clement Onwenwunor tendered five exhibits and called two witnesses.
The two witnesses, Dr John Enoidem and Dr Itemobong Ekaidem, who are both senior lecturers at same UNIUYO, were collation officers for Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo local government areas respectively during the 2019 National Assembly election in the state.
During cross-examination by the defense counsel, each of the witnesses testified that the results they collated at local government levels and presented to the accused person were at variance with the results finally declared by professor Ogban.
Dr Enoidem said for the Oruk Anam LGA election result, while his result showed that while the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored 10,534 votes and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 25,123 votes, that Prof Ogban declared 15,534 votes for APC and the PDP 20,123 votes, thereby reducing the votes for the PDP by 5000 votes and increasing votes for the APC by 5000.
Also testifying, Dr Ekaidem, said his collated result for Etim Ekpo LGA showed that the APC scored 2,671 votes and the PDP 6,603, but the result finally declared by Prof Ogban was 5,671 votes for the APC and 3,306 for the PDP, a difference of three thousand votes in favour of the APC.
The presiding judge, Justice, Augustine Odokwo adjourned the case till Tuesday, January 26 (today).
The defense counsel is scheduled to open its case on January 26, 2021.