“If I lose my source of income, it means all of my dependents I have mentioned will suffer, especially the condition of my aged mother.”
For manipulating election results in favour of Akwa lbom Ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio, Pofessor Peter Ogban is to spend the next 36 months behind the bar, a court ruled on Thursday.
Akpabio, now the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was the APC candidate in the 2019 Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District poll.
INEC had dragged Ogban to court on a two-count charge bordering on fraudulently tampering with the election results in favour of APC during the election.
Ogban, who was the Collation/Returning Officer during the National Assembly elections, was prosecuted for manipulating and falsifying the scores of election results in Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo local government areas for Akpabio, who defected from PDP to APC in a bid to return to the Senate.
An Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting In Ikot Ekpene, had found Prof. Ogban guilty as charged.
Justice Augustine Odokwo sentenced the accused to 36 months in jail and a fine of N100,000 for counts 1 and 2 respectively.
The professor pleaded for leniency, saying his 90-year-old mother and other dependent relatives would suffer if sent to prison.
The professor of Soil Science both in the Universities of Uyo and Calabar, said: “If I lose my source of income, it means all of my dependents I have mentioned will suffer, especially the condition of my aged mother.
“This is an eye-opener for anyone who participates in local, state or national activities to do so with dexterity and not take anything for granted to avoid an innocent person being embarrassed.
“I plead that you grant me 100 per cent mercy and allow me to go and continue with my responsibilities.”
Persecondnews recalls that the PDP candidate in the election, Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor in Akwa Ibom State, had defeated Akpabio.
Earlier, Counsel to the defendant, Mr Anthony Ekpe, had urged the court to pardon the accused, saying the act for which Ogban was found guilty had no effect on the election after all.
“It was just a blip in the entire election process and cannot be said to have been to the detriment of the party said to have suffered.
“It could just as well have been an oversight or a mistake.
“We plead with my Lord not to deprive the accused of his liberty and seek particularly for another form of punishment.
“We plead that the court temper justice with mercy,” the lawyer said.
However, Counsel to INEC, Mr Clement Onwenwunor, hailed the judgment, saying, “the court’s judgment is commendable”.