The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio,has said that Professor Peter Ogban of the University of Calabar, who was jailed for rigging the 2019 elections, said that it could not have been in his favour as claimed by the court and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Reacting to the judgment and jailing of Professor Ogban, Akpabio said that there was no way the same Professor who manipulated election to edge him out and which he challenged up to appeal court level, could have rig the election for him.
Akpabio, who is former governor of Akwa Ibom State, denied claims that Ogban manipulated the election in favour of him and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, twisted the judgment by claiming that Ogban rigged the poll in his favour.
The Minister, in a statement by his spokesman, Aniete Ekong, said: “For the avoidance of doubt Prof. Ogban never announced Senator Akpabio as the winner of any election.”
The statement reads: “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 February 23 2019.
“Professor Ogban was the Returning Officer who in a bizarre twist to manipulate the election and rig Senator Akpabio out, hijacked the electoral results of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District from Ikot Ekpene, the Senatorial District headquarters to Uyo where it was announced after cancellations of lawfully collated votes and against the dictates of the Electoral Act.
“The question is: who was the beneficiary of the electoral fraud and manipulation in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District?
“Certainly, not Senator Akpabio, which was why he challenged the outcome of the election up to the Court of Appeal which upheld his appeal and ordered a rerun election with very strong condemnation of the activities of the Returning Officer and INEC. How then could the same man whose actions Senator Akpabio was dissatisfied with and challenged in Court be said to have rigged the election for Senator Akpabio?”
The Minister stressed that Ogban “cancelled lawful votes” and announced his opponent as the “winner of the manipulated election.”
A High Court in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, had on Thursday, sentenced Prof Ogban to three years jail for announcing false election results in favour of Akpabio during the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election in 2019.
Ogban was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officer for the 2019 Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial election.