Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has said Professor Peter Ogban of the University of Calabar was jailed for rigging the 2019 elections in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
A High Court in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, had on Thursday, sentenced Ogban to three years in prison 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.
However, Akpabio denied claims that Ogban manipulated the election in favour of him and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Minister stated this in a statement signed by his spokesman, Aniete Ekong.
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 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?
“For the avoidance of doubt Prof Ogban never announced Senator Akpabio as the winner of any election.”
The Minister stressed that Ogban “cancelled lawful votes” and announced his opponent as the “winner of the manipulated election.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in reaction to the ruling, had accused Ogban of manipulating the election in favour of the former Akwa Ibom State governor.
Also, the All Progressives Congress, APC, said Ogban’s sentencing was an indication that justice would always prevail under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari