Professor Peter Ogban has been arraigned before a High Court in Ikot-Ikpene, Akwa Ibom State, for the electoral fraud he allegedly committed during the 2019 general elections.
Ogban, a professor of Soil Science, University of Uyo, who served as the Independent National Electoral Commission, 's Returning Officer for the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, was arraigned on two counts, in which he was accused of fraudulently manipulating election results in Etim Ekpo and Oruk Anam collation centres.
He was accused of falsifying, publishing and announcing fake results in the Etim Ekpo and Oruk Anam local government areas of the state during the state House of Assembly election.
Upon his arraignment on Wednesday, Ogban pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, Punch reports.
Justice Augustine Odokwo granted him bail in the sum of N300,000 with two sureties in like sum and adjourned till December 15, 2020, for the commencement of trial.
Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, has said four of the commission's officials, who participated in the 2019 general elections, are being investigated for electoral fraud in the state.
INEC had announced the sacking of three of its permanent staff over electoral malpractices.
At a media briefing on Wednesday in Uyo, Igini said both permanent and ad hoc staff of the commission found guilty during the elections would be prosecuted.
He said Ogban, who has already been arraigned, allegedly changed the outcome of the election by reducing the score of a leading candidate by 5,000 votes and increasing that of the losing candidate with the same votes.
According to Igini, Ogban, however, failed to alter the overall total valid votes cast, and was exposed by the information tracking system of the Electoral Operation Support Centre.
He said, "What you witnessed today in court is a follow-up on those who are not our staff, following our internal investigation done here, and also a follow-up on a request by the state office to the headquarters in Abuja.
"The commission was unequivocal that there would be severe consequences against any, no matter their status, who engage in acts capable of undermining the commission's efforts to give meaning and purpose to the ballot as the best means of the expression of the will of the people in a democracy."