The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has arraigned a professor for election fraud in Alwa Ibom, South-South Nigeria, while another is on the run for a similar offence.
Peter Ogban, a professor of Soil Science at the University of Uyo, was on Tuesday arraigned before Justice Augustine Odokwu of Akwa Ibom State High Court in Ikot Ekpene by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on a two-count charge of manipulation and falsification of election results
Ogban, who served as one of the Collation/Returning Officers during the 2019 general elections, allegedly falsified and announced fake results in the Akwa Ibom North-West National Assembly elections.
According to INEC, the offences are contrary to sections 1 and 123, Sub-section 4 of the Electoral Act, as amended.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges and was granted bail by the court in the sum of N300,000 and a surety in like sum.
The judge also ruled that the surety must provide evidence of tax payment in the last three years and adjourned the case until December 15, 2020.
In a related development, INEC has announced plans to prosecute another professor from the same university over the falsification of results during the 2019 elections.
In a release, the commission’s Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Odaro Aisien, said Ignatius Uduk a professor of Human Kinetics at the University of Uyo, involved in the matter was currently on the run.
Aisien said Uduk declared election results “collated not by him, but by undisclosed individuals who only handed them to him to announce”.
Following the outcome of an investigative panel held in August 2020, INEC established prima facie documentary evidence of deliberate criminality and manipulation of results against the affected lecturers who served as collation and returning officers, he said.
“He admitted to this fact in his own handwritten (not typed) statement that he earlier signed, even though he refused to come back to the commission’s office for further debriefing to ascertain who delivered the prepared election results to him,” Aisien said
He said it was surprising that Uduk appeared at the election tribunal and “stood as a witness against the commission to defend the same election results he did not collate but were given to him by undisclosed persons”.
He said the decision to prosecute the lecturers was informed by the commitment of INEC to ensure the credibility of elections in the country.
“It is hoped that the arraignment of this calibre of individuals will deter others from reprehensible conduct of this nature and serve as a touchstone for the level of seriousness and integrity expected from personnel who may participate in future elections,” Aisien said.