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INEC prosecutes varsity teachers over alleged electoral fraud

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, arraigned Prof. Peter Ogban at the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Ikot Ekpene, for alleged involvement in electoral fraud during the 2019 general elections.

It said Prof. Ignatius Uduk would be arraigned at a later date for a similar offence, saying their prosecution was in line with its determination and commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with electoral responsibilities should be accountable and transparent.

A statement issued by Head, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Odaro Aisien, disclosed that Ogban, who was accused of altering already declared results at polling units and collated ward results in Form EC8B delivered to him by ward collation officers, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail.

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“Ogban altered the election results by reducing the score of a leading candidate with 5,000 votes and increasing the losing candidate’s score by the same margin without altering the overall total valid votes cast. Unfortunately for him, there is no perfect crime as the early information trigger tracking system of the Electoral Operation Support Centre (EOSC), exposed him,” the statement reads.

The statement added that in another deposition in a written statement on oath, Uduk, who was driven to the Election Tribunal venue, stood as a witness against INEC to defend the election results that were collated by undisclosed persons.

INEC pointed out that Uduk failed to honour all invitations to appear before an investigative panel of electoral offences involving the commission’s ad-hoc and permanent staff, adding that some of the offences had been dismissed based on the panel’s findings.

“It is unimaginable that academics from the Ivory Tower, who have risen to the pinnacle of their careers as professors and who ought to be role models, could engage in this kind of conduct.

“It is hoped that the arraignment of these 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,” the statement added.

On the request of counsel to the defendant, Anthony Ekpe, the presiding judge, Justice Augustine Odokwo, granted Ogban bail in the sum of N300, 000 and adjourned the case to December 15, 2020 for further hearing.

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