The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has said the jailed Professor Peter Ogban, who was found guilty of manipulating election results colluded with the Akwa Ibom Independent National Electoral Commissioner’s Resident Electoral Commissioner and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Akpabio said the three manipulated the election in Akwa Ibom State while debunking the claim by the PDP that the professor was punished for rigging for him and the APC.
Akpabio’s response came in a statement by his spokesman, Aniete Ekong.
“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.
“He is vindicated that the perpetrators of the electoral fraud are being brought to justice. At last, the chickens are coming home to roost.
“It could be recalled that Sen. Godswill Akpabio had approached the National Assembly Election Tribunal to challenge the outcome of February 23, 2019, Senatorial District elections held in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District,” the statement reads.
Akpabio accused Professor Ogban, the Returning Officer of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, alongside the REC, Mr Mike Igini, of hijacking the Election Results from the Senatorial District Collation Headquarters, Ikot Ekpene, to another Senatorial District at the INEC office in Uyo.
The statement further reads, “In that election, Sen. Godswill Akpabio’s votes, totalling about 61,329 in his LGA – Essien Udim Local Government, were not announced by Prof. Peter Ogban in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Rather, Prof Ogban who served as the Senatorial District Returning Officer joined the Resident Electoral Commissioner to Uyo where the votes/ scores of Sen. Akpabio were cancelled in various polling units and collation centres of different Local Government Areas constituting Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District including 61,329 votes of his home local government.
“An appeal from the National Assembly Election Tribunal to the Court of Appeal invalidated the elections and a rerun election was ordered in Essien Udim Local Government Area because of the fraudulent act of Prof Ogban and Mike Igini.
“The only surprise is that it is only the Returning Officer that was charged while the REC is still parading himself in freedom.
“In a judgment of the Court of Appeal, the justices allowed the appeal by Senator Godswill Akpabio and ordered a Rerun election, while the Certificate of Return of the PDP candidate was withdrawn and nullified.
“The court condemned the action of the INEC and that of Prof. Ogban for which Prof. Ogban was charged, found guilty and sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of N100,000. The sentence has vindicated Senator Akpabio and the APC that the election was massively rigged.
“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 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?
“In due time, we believe all the conspirators will be brought to justice as Prof. Ogban, either through the judiciary or divine.”