By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo, has adjourned the case between the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and Professor Ignatius Uduk till January 13, 2021, for definite hearing.
The presiding judge, Justice Archibong Archibong, adjourned the matter yesterday following the absence of a written statement of the Prosecution Witness (PW).
Archibong urged the Counsel to the Prosecution (INEC) to go back and put their house together and adjourned the matter till January 13-14, 2021 for definite hearing.
The Lead Counsel to INEC, Kpoobari Sigalo filed an application for vacation of hearing on the matter on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Recall that Justice Archibong had on December 14, 2020, granted bail to the accused/applicant in the sum of N500,000 with a surety in the like sum and adjourned the matter till January 11-14, 2021 for accelerated hearing.
Addressing newsmen, Lawyer to the accused, Abasiediong Ekpenyong, said, who noted that today (Monday) was for definite trial on the matter, however, explained that before the Prosecution (PW) could begin his testimony, the Counsel, Kpoobari Sigalo, indicated his intention to substitute the charge by way of amendment.
He stressed, “Regrettably, it does appear he (Sigalo) did not sleep well last night. So he came in this morning unprepared and that was obvious when my Lord observed that his house was not in order. I literally helped him to put the house in order from my own house, anyway.
“He has now sought the vacation of tomorrow’s hearing date for him to put his house in order, and we pray he comes back on Wednesday prepared. Like I mentioned in court, this is the same case the prosecution obtained a bench warrant against the accused which was not necessary.
“The accused person is presumed innocent and indeed stands innocent. He came to court early enough; he wants to defend himself. So that was what happened today and the case is adjourned till Wednesday”
On his part, Counsel to INEC, Kpoobari Sigalo, faulted the statement by his colleague and Lawyer to the defendant that he was not prepared for hearing on the matter.
His words, “We came today fully prepared today for the hearing on the matter, only that the written statement of our witness wasn’t in the file. We actually filed our charge before the Court, we looked at the charge and there was a need for minor amendment of the charge, in the process we discovered that the written statement of the witness was not there.
“We thought that it was intact, only to discover this morning that it wasn’t in the file and the court guided us to go back, put our house together and come back.
“So we came fully prepared, and I want to take a very serious exception to the statement by the Counsel to the defendant that we didn’t prepare. Our witness was already in the witness box to give evidence in respect of this matter.
“So we were fully prepared for this matter, only for the disappearance of the written statement of the witness. The matter was adjourned till January 13, 2021, for definite hearing, and we will be here to prosecute the matter”
Recall that Professor Uduk of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) who was a Collation/Returning Officer during the 2019 State House of Assembly for Essien Udim state constituency, is standing trial before, Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo, for his alleged involvement in electoral fraud in the said election.