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Editorial News of Saturday, 27 March 2021


Senator Akpabio attacks PDP, INEC, denies involvement with jailed professor

Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

The recent controversy over the electoral victories of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has taken a dramatic twist with Senator Akpabio lambasting his former political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for associating him with Professor Peter Ogban, who was recently convicted for allegedly rigging the 23rd February 2019 election in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Senator Akpabio on Saturday in Abuja, described as “spurious, unfounded and malicious,” the PDP’s allegation that the jailed Prof Ogba, as INEC’s Returning Officer manipulated the election results in Akpabio’s favour.

Professor Peter Ogban was sentenced to three years imprisonment after he was found guilty of fraudulent manipulation of election results of 23rd February 2019 in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District

According to Aniete Ekong, Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio, the Minister “was rather a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election.”

Besides lambasting the PDP for attempting to link him to the electoral infamy, Ekong also accused the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) for desperation and for launching a campaign of calumny aimed at disparaging the person of the Minister.

“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 23rd February 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,” Ekong said.

This is as he said that Senator 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.

Amongst those who were sued are the Returning Officer of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Professor Ogban and the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini.

The duo allegedly “hijacked the Election Results from the Senatorial District Collation Headquarters, Ikot Ekpene to another Senatorial District at the INEC office in Uyo, where the collated votes of Senator Godswill Akpabio were maliciously and arbitrarily cancelled by the Resident Electoral Commissioner – Mike Igini and Prof Ogban.”

Ekong added that “in that election, Sen. Godswill Akpabio’s votes totaling about 61,329 scored in his home Local Government Area – Essien Udim Local Government, having been collated, were not announced by Prof. Peter Ogban in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Rather, he said that 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 centers of various Local Government Areas constituting Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District including 61,329 votes of his home local government.

The Spokesman of the Minister further explained that 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.”

Following the appeal, the court ordered a Rerun election, while the Certificate of Return of the PDP candidate was withdrawn and nullified.

The court subsequently found the Returning Officer guilty of electoral fraud and sentenced him to three years imprisonment with a fine of N100,000.

In the same vein, the court ruled that votes from Abak, Etim Ekpo and Ini Local Government Areas were cancelled by the Returning Officer (Professor Ogban).

It also ruled that in Obot Akara, the Local Government Area of Senator Akpabio’s opponent there was a case of recorded over voting yet the votes validated the votes in INEC office in Uyo thereby giving an advantage to Senator Akpabio’s opponent.

Ekong described as the height of mischief, reports that the Returning Officer manipulated the results of the polls for Sen. Akpabio.

“Prof Ogban never announced Senator Akpabio as the winner of any election. Instead, he cancelled his lawful votes and announced Senator Akpabio’s opponent as the winner of the manipulated election.

He said, “it is the height of mischief for anyone to say that a man who arbitrarily cancelled lawfully collated votes of the APC and announced PDP winner of the election was working for Sen. Akpabio.

It is obvious that some persons are being haunted by the ghost of the last election which they massively manipulated to reach a predetermined conclusion, a position which was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Calabar.

In due time, we believe all the conspirators will be brought to justice as Prof. Ogban, either through the judiciary or divine.”

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