By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Akwa Ibom state High Court sitting in Uyo, has commenced hearing of trial of Professor Ignatius Uduk of University of Uyo, UNIUYO who was alleged involved in electoral fraud during the 2019 general elections.
Professor Uduk who was the Collation/ Returning Officer during Essien Udim State House of Assembly election is being prosecuted by the Independent National Electoral Commissíon, (INEC) under charge no HU/240c/2020.
The Professor of Physical and Health Education is standing trial on a three count charge of abandonment of duties and unlawful generation, announcement and publication of false election result scores of 2019 Essien Udim state Assembly elections and lying on oath at the inception of the election petition tribunal.
During the proceedings yesterday, Head of Electoral Operations, INEC’s headquarters in Uyo, Mr Vincent Akpowene Oghene, who appeared as the first witness (PW1) tendered eight documents admitted as evidence by the trial judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang.
Oghene affirmed that Prof Uduk was the Collation/Returning Officer for Essien Udim State constituency during the 2019 General Elections, and attested to the documents marked by the court as exhibits when he announced and published false results.
The Witness during cross examination by the defence Lawyer, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, told the court that he monitored the elections from the Office and only visited some polling units in Ukana at about 11am when INEC received reports of violence in the area.
Oghene also told the court that when he arrived the scene, he saw the polling units scattered, while the electoral officers were not insight.
The defence Counsel who later sought for the adjournment of the case, also prayed for bail extension to be granted his client on the grounds that he (Prof Uduk) has been consistent in court and in time too.
The trial Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang approved the bail extension of the accused the existing terms as the Prosecution did not object to it.
Nkanang adjourned the case till Tuesday January 25, 2022 for continuation of hearing.
Meanwhile, speaking after the proceedings, the defence Counsel Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, explained, “Today the prosecution opened their case. PW1 has been taken, he has tendered some documents, now exhibits before the courts and cross examination has begun. We have not concluded”.
Also, speaking, the prosecution Clement Onwuenwunor said “We have called our first Witness in this matter and he has testified. All our documents have been tendered.
“The defence counsel has opened cross examination, but at a point he had to discuss with us to seek an adjournment for further examination, and the matter has been adjourned for next week”.