July 22, 2024

Court dismisses ‘no case submission’ of professor accused of electoral fraud

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Ini Billie, Uyo

The Akwa Ibom State High Court 9 sitting in Uyo, on Thursday, dismissed the no-case submission of Professor Ignatius Uduk accused of electoral fraud.

Uduk was arraigned on three counts of announcing and publishing false election results, as well as lying under oath as Collation/Returning officer for Essien Udim state constituency elections in 2019.

In his judgment, Justice Bassey Nkanang dismissed the primary objection of the accused and the no-case submission before the court.

Speaking after the ruling, lead Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Barr. Clement Onwuenwunor described the ruling as “wonderful, well-researched and incisive”.

He said it would have been a miscarriage of justice for the court to have held that the accused had no case to answer.

“The ruling was wonderful, well-researched and highly incisive. It covers everything. As you all heard the primary objective of the accused was dismissed, the no-case submission was also dismissed because in the course of the proceedings in court, we had witnesses and we tendered an avalanche of documents showing the connection of the accused to the crime charged before the court.

“Honestly speaking, it would have been a failure of justice for the court to have held that the accused who issued contradictory documents had no case to answer. He has to explain the contradictions, in the first official report he submitted to INEC showing that there was no collation and no returns made.

“He has to explain why within 24-hours or less, the results now appear. This is all that we urged the court to see, that he has a prima facie case and we’re very grateful that the court did a wonderful job, and we felt justice has been served,” he stated.

Onwuenwunor advised that as the nation was preparing for the 2023 elections, it must pay attention to human elements which according to him, play a key role in the conduct of elections.

He said,” As we approach the 2023 general election, we want everyone to understand that human element is very key because the process of election is not self-executed, we need human elements to run the process, so everyone needs to pay attention to how the process is being managed by the INEC staff and other persons that will be involved in the election”.

In reaction to the ruling, the lead counsel of the accused, Barr Abasiodiong Ekpenyong said he was not satisfied with the ruling, adding that he would take a closer look at the ruling to understand the next steps to take.

“Having followed this trial to this point, if you were the one would you be satisfied? I am not satisfied with the ruling but that is the court for you. When a litigant through his counsel makes a position, the court must decide in one way or the other. Today was not our day. The ruling has just been handed down, we will take a firm and a closer look at it and we will understand what next to do,” he said.

Justice Nkanang has adjourned the case to the 23rd, 27th, 28th and 30th of June for defence.

Professor Uduak was a professor of Physical and Health Education, the University of Uyo.

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