In reaction to the jail sentence of Professor Peter Ogban, a retuning officer in the last Akwa-Ibom Senatorial election, Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has said Ogban was jailed for manipulating elections results to Favour his opponent, Senator Chris Ekpenyong and his party, the People’s Democratic Party.
This is coming after a High Court sitting in Akwa Ibom State, sentenced one professor Peter Ogban who served as a returning officer to INEC, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for announcing false election results in favour of Akpabio during the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election in 2019.
However in a twist of events, Akpabio has refuted claims that Ogban was jailed for over electoral fraud in his Favour, saying rather He was convicted for doctoring the election results to enable the opposition, the People’s Democratic Party win the elections.
Akpabio in a statement insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, twisted the judgment by claiming that Ogban rigged the poll in his favour.
The statement read:
In their desperation in a continuing campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio, the INEC in Akwa Ibom State twisted the context of the judgment and maliciously claimed that the election was rigged in favour of Senator Akpabio.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The facts of the case put a lie to this assertion.
Contrarily, Senator Akpabio was a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District held on February 23 2019.
Professor Ogban was the Returning Officer who in a bizarre twist to manipulate the election and rig Senator Akpabio out, hijacked the electoral results of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District from Ikot Ekpene, the Senatorial District headquarters to Uyo where it was announced after cancellations of lawfully collated votes and against the dictates of the Electoral Act.
The question is: who was the beneficiary of the electoral fraud and manipulation in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District?
Certainly, not Senator Akpabio, which was why he challenged the outcome of the election up to the Court of Appeal which upheld his appeal and ordered a rerun election with very strong condemnation of the activities of the Returning Officer and INEC. How then could the same man whose actions Senator Akpabio was dissatisfied with and challenged in Court be said to have rigged the election for Senator Akpabio?
For the avoidance of doubt Prof Ogban never announced Senator Akpabio as the winner of any election.
The Minister emphasized that Ogban “cancelled lawful votes” and announced his opponent as the “winner of the manipulated election.”
It would be recalled that even the APC had expressed satisfaction in the judgment, saying it was a good one from the judiciary.