A university professor, charged with election fraud, has told a judge how results of a general election were falsified to give the All Progressives Congress (APC) an unfair advantage over its main rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Peter Ogban, a professor of soil science and a returning officer in the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom North-West District, is accused of manipulating the election results of two local government areas – Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo.
He is being prosecuted at a State High Court in Ikot Ekpene by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Ogban was a lecturer in University of Uyo before he transferred his services to the University of Calabar.
During cross examination on Tuesday by the prosecuting counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor, Mr Ogban admitted he knew that figures on declared result sheets (forms EC8E1) are always taken from results collated at the constituency (form EC8D1).
The prosecuting counsel asked Mr Ogban to open exhibit 2 (form EC8D1) and tell the court what the score was for APC in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in the election.
Mr Ogban responded that it was 10,534 votes.
“Prof, go to exhibit 3 (form EC8E1),” the prosecuting counsel told Mr Ogban. “What was the score you recorded for Oruk Anam in exhibit 3?”
“The Returning Officer read 15,534 and I recorded (it),” he responded.
Clearly, as seen during cross examination, some 5,000 fake votes were added to the APC’s score in Oruk Anam, in the election.
The professor also admitted he and the PDP agent signed the result sheet.
When asked by the prosecuting counsel if he extracted or compared from exhibit 2 before he filled exhibit 3, the professor told the court: “I did not extract information from exhibit 2 before filling exhibit 3. I filled exhibit 3 from what was read out to me by the local government area returning officer.”
On further cross examination, it was revealed that the PDP score in exhibit 2 was 25,123 but in exhibit 3 the figure was less by 5,000 votes, making it 20,123.
The prosecuting counsel looked straight at Mr Ogban and said to him, “Prof, I put it to you that the results from Etim Ekpo and Oruk Anam were falsified by you!”
“No!” The professor responded.
Mr Ogban, during examination by his lawyer, Francis Ekanem, insisted he did not falsify the election results. “I didn’t do it. I would never have done it,” he said.
The professor said what he did was just to collate the results as given to him by the local government area returning officers.
The case was adjourned to March 23 for judgement.
Justice Augustine Odokwo gave the lawyers two weeks each to file their written addresses for adoption.
Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was the APC candidate in the election. He was seeking a return to the Senate, after he defected from the PDP.
The PDP candidate, Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor in Akwa Ibom State, defeated Mr Akpabio in the election which was gripped by pockets of violence.
Another professor also faces trial for election fraud
Ignatius Uduk, a professor of Human Kinetics in the Department of Physical and Health Education, University of Uyo, has also been charged for election fraud in Akwa Ibom State.
He is accused of unlawful generation of election results in favour of PDP in Essien Udim State Constituency election in 2019 and lying under oath.
Mr Uduk was remanded in prison custody in December after the court issued a warrant of arrest on him.
This is the first time ever that INEC is prosecuting two professors for fraud.
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