Mike Igini and Prof Peter Ogban: The Oxymoron of a Judgment
By Smart Chizurum
The conviction of a co-accused is the height of hypocrisy and mischief.
The recent conviction of Professor Peter Ogban by an Akwa Ibom State High Court over the ignorable role he played during the 2019 North-West Senatorial District election did not come to discerning minds and political players as a surprise.
The professor of soil science at the University of Calabar, it would be recalled, was the Returning Officer for that election. His active connivance with the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini, to deny Senator Godswill Akpabio a well deserved victory after the election precipitated the legal battle that culminated in the Appeal Court which ordered a re-run of the said senatorial election.
It is therefore shocking that following Prof Ogban’s conviction few days ago, the People’s Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State and her apparatus, spared no effort in their wicked attempt at turning truth on its head, with spurious propaganda that the convicted Ogban manipulated the election results in favour of Senator Godswill Akpabio, who was the All Progressives Congress candidate for the said election.
One begins to wonder how on earth can a victim of fraud and election rigging be called a beneficiary of the same manipulation targeted at him? This is the height of mischief!
The truth of the matter is that no matter how you want to bury the truth, falsehood can never gain ascendancy over truth and light. The attempt to smear and perhaps destroy Godswill Akpabio’s hard earned reputation and character by few egoistic individuals, both within and outside, will always fall flat when confronted with truth and logic.
To put the records straight, towards 2019 General Election, Senator Godswill Akpabio felt uncomfortable with certain characters in PDP in Akwa Ibom State and had to exit when his continued membership meant murdering his political fortune and future. The plot for his “downfall” instantly became a project of combined enemies within and without. His second attempt at return to Red Chambers of the National Assembly was truncated by INEC, the State PDP and some external forces who felt threatened by his rising political profile at the national scene.
It is on record that when results of the Senatorial District were collated at the Senatorial District Collation Centre in Ikot Ekpene, it became obvious who the winner of the election was. Akpabio’s anticipated victory confounded INEC comprising the Returning Officer, Professor Peter Ogban and the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini and they quickly planned to violate the electoral law by engaging in brazen illegality. They hijacked the Election Results from the Senatorial District Collation Headquarters, Ikot Ekpene to INEC office Uyo where the duo arbitrarily declared the candidate of PDP, Mr. Chris Ekpeyong the winner of the election, in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act.
What transpired at the State Capital was bizarre. At Uyo, the result of Essien Udim was terribly altered with hand to read APC = 6241.This falsified result was contrary to original result wherein APC had 61,339 and PDP had 9050.
The evidence of the evil perpetuated against Godswill Akpabio was exposed during the legal battle that took place at the Election Tribunal in Uyo after the PDP candidate was declared the winner. One Dr Williams, the INEC Collation Officer for Essien Udim admitted during Cross Examination by the Counsel to Godswill Akpabio that the result of Essien Udim was altered by INEC Officials at Uyo which led to the emergence of the PDP candidate as the winner.
If Prof Ogban altered result in favour of Godswill Akpabio as INEC and PDP in the State want the world to believe, few pertinent questions here will put things in proper perspective.
1. When and where did Prof Ogban admit that he altered the election result in favour of Akpabio? At the Election Tribunal which he refused to appear or at the High Court where he was recently convicted? No such evidence of admission.
2. Why did he, Prof Ogban and the Resident Electoral Commissioner announce the altered senatorial result at Uyo and not at the Senatorial District Collation Headquarters if he was working for Senator Akpabio?
3. Whom did INEC comprising Prof Peter Ogban and Mike Igini announce as the winner of the Senatorial election in Uyo in 2019, Senator Akpabio or Mr. Ekpeyong?
4. What was the finding of the Court of Appeal concerning the collation and announcement of the Senatorial Election Result pertaining to Essien Udim by Prof Peter Ogban and Mike Igini who worked for INEC?
5. If Prof Ogban worked for Senator Godswill Akpabio, as Mike Igini and PDP in Akwa Ibom want the world to believe, how come Senator Akpabio sued the same Prof Peter Ogban as the one who, in connivance with Mike Igini fraudulently manipulated, cancelled and altered the results of Essien Udim and other local government areas where Senator Godswill Akpabio won with overwhelming votes? The truth of the matter is that Prof Peter Ogban was sued and joined by Senator Godswill Akpabio for his wrongdoings against Senator Akpabio during the senatorial election!
An unbiased answers to the above posers will elicit a clear direction to a genuine mind that is in search of truth on how wicked and mischievous INEC and PDP in Akwa Ibom State have gone in an attempt to make a victim of their manipulations become a villain in the whole saga.
For those who may have been deceived by the manipulations of INEC and Akwa Ibom State PDP over Prof Ogban’s conviction, which to every fair mind is healthy to our polity and to the glory of President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance against election rigging, I reproduce here below the conclusions of the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division in an appeal filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio against the “robbery” that took place in the North West Senatorial District Election held on the 23rd of February, 2019 . His Lordship, Hon. Justice Tanko Husseini held as follows:
1. “The return of the Ist Respondent(Chief Chris Ekpeyong of PDP) as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District Election held on 23/2/2019 is declared invalid for substantial non-compliance with provision of the Electoral Act, arising in, from acts of vandalism, destruction of Election materials, snatching of Ballot Boxes.
2. The 1st Respondent(Chief Chris Ekpeyong of PDP) was not duly returned or elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election held on 23/2/2019, hence his declaration and return is invalid being contrary to provision of the Electoral Act.
3. Consequently, the Certificate of return issued by the 3rd Respondent (INEC) to the 1st Respondeent(Chief Ekpeyong of PDP) is withdrawn, etc.”
The Learned Justice went further and this is very important to every discerning mind to note:
“Before I draw the curtain, I think I should reiterate the importance of the relevance of the principles established in the Electoral Act by all stakeholders including political actors as well as the Electoral Commission that ALL PERSONS WHO WORK UNDER THE COMMISSION, ie THE 3RD RESPONDENT, MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER FOR THE REALIZATION OF A TRUE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN A DEMOCRATIC SETTING.
“Section 27 of the Electoral Act is one such provision which commands respect and observance of the provisions in relation to the announcement of election results. Section 27(2) (e) for instance provides that;
“The Returning Officer shall announce the result and declare the winner of the election at:
(e) Senatorial District Collation Centre in the case of Election to the Senate.
“Announcement of election results in a place OTHER THAN THE DESIGNATED PLACE, PERMITTED BY LAW IS HARDLY STRICT OBSERVANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLES ESTABLISHED BY THE ELECTORAL ACT. IT NEGATES THAT PRINCIPLE. It amounts to non-compliance”
With this profound pronouncement by the hallowed Court of Appeal, Calabar, Senator Akpabio and his supporters were expectant that ALL THE ELECTORAL HEAD IN AKWA IBOM STATE that conducted the fraudulent election that warranted a rerun to be ordered would be arrested and prosecuted, alas it is the unfortunate Prof Ogban that the mischievous INEC singled out to sacrifice in order to keep the job and name of Resident Electoral Commissioner.
That the said Resident Electoral Commissioner is gloating over the conviction of a co-accused is the height of hypocrisy and mischief! THIS IS CLEARLY ALARMING!