A state High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has issued an arrest warrant for a Nigerian professor, Ignatius Uduk, accused of election fraud.
The university teacher should have been arraigned on November 17, alongside another professor, but “he appears to be on the run”, according to a statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Uduk, a professor of Human Kinetics, teaches in the Department of Physical and Health Education, University of Uyo.
He was one of the ad-hoc officials recruited by INEC to assist in the conduct of the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State, in Nigeria’s South-south.
Mr Uduk, alongside Peter Ogban, a professor of Soil Science, of the same university, is accused of trying to rig the 2019 Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election in favour of the former senator, Godswill Akpabio, of the All Progressives Congress.
Mr Akpabio, who is now the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, lost the election to the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Ogban was arraigned on November 17 and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Uduk was however not present in court, despite a court order served through the vice-chancellor of the University of Uyo, on November 18, which directed him (Mr Uduk) to appear in court, INEC said a statement issued on Monday by Odaro Aisien, who heads the department of voter education and publicity.
“When the accused did not still appear before the court, the matter was adjourned to the 23rd of November, 2020.
“Issuing the Bench Warrant for the arrest of Professor Uduk, upon the application of the Counsel to INEC, Kpoobari Sigalo, the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice A.E Archibong, frowned upon the refusal of the Professor to obey the Order of the Court,” INEC said in the statement.
The case has been adjourned to December 9, with the police expected to produce the university lecturer in court.
“Professor Ignatius Uduk, declared election results collated not by him, but by undisclosed individuals who only handed them to him to announce.
“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.
“However, in another deposition, this time in a typed written statement on oath, Prof Uduk, driven in a dark tinted vehicle to the Election Tribunal venue, surprisingly 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,” INEC said in a previous statement.
This is the first time ever that INEC will be prosecuting two professors for fraud.
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