Court Jails Professor for Publishing False Election Results

Court Jails Professor for Publishing False Election Results

…As INEC Scores Major Victory in Landmark Judgement In a landmark judgment that may send jitters down the spines to partakers of electoral malpractices, Professor Peter Ogban, a returning officer in the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State North-West Senatorial District, has been jailed for election fraud. Ogban, a Professor of Soil Science at

…As INEC Scores Major Victory in Landmark Judgement

In a landmark judgment that may send jitters down the spines to partakers of electoral malpractices, Professor Peter Ogban, a returning officer in the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State North-West Senatorial District, has been jailed for election fraud.

Ogban, a Professor of Soil Science at the University of Calabar (UNICAL), was jailed by a High Court in Akwa Ibom State on Thursday for three years after he was found guilty of fraudulent manipulation of election results, and of publishing and announcing false results.

The returning officer was charged for manipulating the election results of two local government areas of Akwa Ibom – Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo.

In a previous court session, Prof Ogban had told the court how results of the election were falsified to give the All Progressives Congress (APC) an unfair advantage over its main rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who was the APC candidate in the election, was seeking a return to the Senate after he defected from the PDP.

The PDP candidate, Mr Chris Ekpenyong, a former Deputy Governor in Akwa Ibom State, defeated Mr Akpabio in the election which was gripped by pockets of violence.

Mr Ogban was prosecuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has scored a major victory in the landmark case.

His plea for mercy from the Judge, Augustine Odokwo became a mere academic exercise.

With rising cases of electoral malpractices, Nigeria’s election management body between the tenure of Prof Attahiru Jega and the current chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu have invested in technology as a way of cleaning up the country’s election characterised by rigging, vote buying, ballot box snatching intimidation of voters and manipulation of election results. But it appears the offenders have intensified their game. INEC however, has been handicapped on this matter as offenders are usually handed over to the Police

Many have canvassed for the setting up of Electoral Offences tribunal to deal with it since the INEC lacks the capacity to deal with what has become a festering sore.

Just last Saturday, the INEC announced the suspension of the bye-election into the Ekiti East State Constituency seat, following incidents of violence which led to the killing of three persons and three others sustaining gunshot injuries.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner REC in the state, Dr. Tella Adeniran who disclosed this in a statement, said the exercise which witnessed 100% opening of polls at 8.30am on Saturday, commenced on a good note in a peaceful and orderly manner.

However, at about 10 am, Dr Afeniran said there were reported cases of violence in two polling units of Ward 09 (Obadore IV); polling unit 8 (Baba Egbe house/Odouro/Odoule) and Polling Unit 9 (Beside Baba Egbe/Odouru/Odoule) as well as Polling unit 07 (Aro street/Aro) of Ward 07 (Obadore II). “In Polling Unit 07, Ward 07, three voters were shot dead while a youth corper, a police woman and an INEC staff sustained gunshot wounds”, he said.

The REC added that under the circumstance, the safety of electoral officials, security personnel and election materials as well as the credibility of the process cannot be guaranteed.

Dr Afeniran said it is unfortunate that in spite of the efforts of the Commission to give Nigerians free, fair, credible and inclusive election, some people appear to be unprepared for an improved electoral process.

“The situation is such that, a conducive environment no longer exists for further electoral activity at the Polling Units and the Collation centers. “In view of this development, the Commission has suspended the election forthwith”, he declared.

Meanwhile, the INEC says it is fully prepared for the Aba North/South Federal Constituency by-election in Abia State holding on Saturday, March 27th, 2021.

Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee said this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday that INEC had firmed up its preparations for the election by deploying over 2,970 officials for its conduct.

“All non-sensitive materials required for the conduct of the election at the two Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the constituency have been delivered and batched according to the Registration Areas.

“All ad hoc staff required for the conduct of the election has been trained awaiting deployment.

“All sensitive materials have been delivered to the Central Bank in Umuahia, Abia State and will be inspected on Thursday, March 25 for dispatch to the two LGA offices of the Commission,” he said.

Okoye urged all registered voters in the constituency to come out en masse to exercise their franchise during the by-election.

“Violent and unwholesome acts undermine the sovereign rights of the people to clean elections and deprive the constituency of quality representation.

“The Commission is committed to the safety and welfare of its election duty staff and the voters and will strengthen its collaboration with the Inter- Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security in this regard,” he said.

About 498,390 voters were expected to cast their ballots in 609 polling units spread across 24 Registration Areas (RAs) in the two LGAs of the constituency during the election.

The INEC also says it plans to resume Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) across the country in the second quarter of 2021.

Mrs Wunmi Balogun, INEC Head of ICT, Ibadan, said this at the training of electoral officers and assistant electoral officers on access to Polling Units (PUs) in Ibadan on Monday.

Balogun added that the Commission would be using INEC Voters Enrolment Devices for the CVR instead of the Direct Data Capturing Machine.

Mr Mutiu Agboke, the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) said the training was to address the challenges being faced by voters on access to polling units during elections.

The workshop was specifically held for INEC’s head of departments, electoral officers and assistant electoral officers.

Agboke said the problem was multifaceted, saying that the Commission was determined to solve it nationally so that there would be no claim of being left out in any part of the country,

“What we are doing is to x-ray the paper that we have with our staff, particularly those manning our offices in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) and their assistants.

“These officers are being taken through the process to understand the issues involved when we say what are the challenges faced by voters in accessing polling units.

“We are making them to know the issues involved, that where there are places where voters cannot access the polling unit based on the terrain, we need to look at it.

“Also where there are places polling units are sited, in a domain or community or terrain of politician/political fathers; INEC will look at it.

“We are also looking at where we have excessive crowd in a particular location that makes it very difficult for voters.” he said.

The REC said that inability of voters to access polling units could cause voter apathy, adding that apathy was what the Commission wanted to prevent.

He urged the participants to maximise the opportunity by engaging themselves on better ways to improve their performances.




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