Posted by News Express | 28 March 2021 | 684 times
The Election Transparency Group (ETG) on Saturday called for the arrest and prosecution of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over his alleged involvement in falsification of results of the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial election in 2019.
A High Court in Akwa Ibom State had sentenced Peter Ogban, a professor of soil science at the University of Calabar, to three years in prison for manipulation the election results.
Ogban was the returning officer in the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial election in 2019. “He was prosecuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and found guilty of altering results of the election to favour Senator Akpabio who was the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Chris Ekpeyong,” ETG said in a release issued on Saturday and signed by its Convener, Dr. Kazeem Adekunle.
It asked “how the INEC returning officer will be jailed while the person for whom he committed the electoral fraud is a minister.”
The group said it is on record that Akpabio was the mastermind of the criminal act for which Prof Ogban was jailed. “He (Akpabio) was the beneficiary of the fake over 61,000 votes recorded for APC in Essien Udim Local Government where 19, 455 voters were accredited.
“It is our opinion that it is hypocrically on the side of INEC for the commission to have prosecuted only Prof Ogban, leaving Senator Akpabio, who was the mastermind and beneficiary of the electoral fraud untouched.That the same Akpabio is even occupying the exalted office of a Minister and member of the Federal Executive Council is an insult on the collective sensibility of Nigerians.
“It is also another clear confirmation of the deceit in President Muhammadu Buhari’s to fight against corruption.
“We therefore demand that Senator Godswill Akpabio be arrested and made to face trial for being the sponsor of the criminal act on which the executioner, Prof Ogban has been jailed,” ETG said.
Akpabio, however, promptly refuted the claim that the jailed Prof. Ogban was convicted for rigging election in favour APC.
Akpabio said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Aniete Ekong, while reacting to the claim – which has also been made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – described the claim as spurious, unfounded and malicious.
“In their desperation in a continuing campaign of calumny against Akpabio, they twisted the context of the judgment and maliciously claimed that the election was rigged in his favour.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, the facts of the case put a lie to this assertion.
“Contrarily, Akpabio was a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election of Akwa Ibom North- West Senatorial District held on Feb. 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,” he said.
Ekong said Akpabio did approached the National Assembly Election Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
“In that election, Akpabio’s votes totaling about 61,329 scored at his home Local Government Area (LGA) – Essien Udim, having been collated, were not announced by Ogban in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Rather, Ogban who served as the Senatorial District Returning Officer joined the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Uyo where the votes and scores of Akpabio were cancelled in various polling units and collation centers of various LGAs constituting Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
“This was including 61,329 votes of his home LGA,” he said.
He added that the National Assembly Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal invalidated the election and a rerun was ordered in Essien Udim LGA.
He said sentencing Ogban had vindicated Akpabio and the APC that the election was massively rigged.
He wondered why Akpabio would challenge the outcome of the election up to the Court of Appeal which upheld his appeal and ordered a rerun election if he was a beneficiary of the election fraud.
“For the avoidance of doubt Ogban never announce Akpabio as the winner of any election, instead he cancelled his lawful votes and announced his opponent as the winner of the manipulated election.
“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 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 Ogban, either through the judiciary or divine intervention,” he said.
He, however, added that Akpabio had since moved on to face his present national assignment and would not be distracted by baseless and unfounded reports by the PDP hatchet men and mischief makers.
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