Court rejects no case submission’ by Varsity Don accused of electoral fraud


 

An Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, the state capital on Thursday dismissed as a no-case submission filed by the defence counsel for Professor Ignatius Uduk, who is standing trial over alleged electoral fraud in the 2019 general elections.

The presiding judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang said Uduk a Professor of Physical and Health Education, University of Uyo, and Collation/Returning officer for Essien Udim state constituency elections has a case to answer.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after that ruling, lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, 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 who had issued contradictory documents had no case to answer.

“The ruling covers everything. As you all heard the primary objection of the accused was dismissed, and 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 had issued contradictory documents had no case to answer. He has to explain the contradictions, the first official report he submitted to INEC shows 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 advised that as the nation prepares for 2023, elections, it must pay attention to human elements which according to him, play a key role in the conduct of an election.

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”.

Reacting to the ruling while fielding questions from newsmen, the lead counsel to the accused, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong said he was not satisfied with the ruling, adding that he would take a closer look at it to understand the next steps to take.

“Having followed this trial to this point, 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 adjourned the case to the 23rd, 27th,28th and 30th of June for commencement of defence.

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