The Akwa Ibom State High Court 2 sitting in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area has sentenced one Prof Peter Ogban of the University of Calabar, Cross River State, to three years imprisonment for electoral fraud he committed during the 2019 elections in the state.
Ogban, a Professor of Soil Physics and Conservation, who acted as the Collation/Returning Officer during the National Assembly election, stood trial on two counts of manipulating and falsifying scores of election results in Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas in favour of the All Progressives Congress.
In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Augustine Odokwo said it was proved beyond reasonable doubts that the accused was guilty of the charges and accordingly sentenced him to three years imprisonment and a fine of N100,000 for the two counts, respectively
The accused pleaded for mercy on the premise that he has dependents including a 90-year-old mother to cater for.
He also described himself as a respectable member of his community and a sought-after university teacher.
He said, “If I lose my source of income, it means all of my dependents I have mentioned will suffer, especially the condition of my aged mother.
“This is an eye opener for anyone who participated in local, state or national activities to do so with dexterity and not take anything for granted to avoid an innocent person being embarrassed.
“I should be pardoned for the inability to do this which is why I am here today. I plead that you grant me 100 per cent mercy and allow me to go and continue with my responsibilities.”
Earlier, counsel to the defendant, Anthony Ekpe, had prayed the court to pardon the accused, saying the act for which Ogban was found guilty did not affect the said elections.
Ekpe later said his client will appeal the judgment.
Counsel for INEC, Clement Onwenwunor, however described the judgment as commendable.
PDP hails three-year imprisonment of UNICAL prof
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has commended the judiciary for its courage to stand on the side of the people to jail professor.
The party, according to a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, expressed the hope that the long arm of the law would soon catch up with other corrupt returning officers.
The statement read in part, “It is shameful that individuals who had attained the peak of enviable career in the academia could submit themselves as willing tools in the hands of a fraudulent, debased and manipulative political party to alter election results and subvert the collective will of the people in the 2019 elections.
“Such individuals can now see the deplorable situation of economic depression, excruciating hardship, terrorism, killings, kidnappings, social and infrastructural decay, which their fraudulent and unpatriotic action has plunged our nation.”