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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the ruling of a High Court in Akwa-Ibom State, which sentenced a Nigerian professor, Peter Ogban, to three years in prison, for election fraud.

In a release issued by CACOL’s Director, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “It was reported that the Akwa Ibom State High Court 2 sitting in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area had sentenced one Professor Peter Ogban of the University of Calabar, Cross River State, to three years imprisonment for the electoral fraud he committed during the 2019 elections in the state. Ogban, a Professor of Soil Physics and Conservation, who acted as the Collation/Returning Officer during the National Assembly election, stood trial on two counts of manipulating and falsifying scores of election results in Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas in favour of the APC. In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Augustine Odokwo said it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty of the charges and accordingly sentenced him to three years imprisonment and a fine of N100,000 for the two counts, respectively. All these were after a painstaking, diligent and commendable investigation, coupled with brilliant prosecution by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)”.

“We at CACOL believed that Elections are transparent when each step is open to scrutiny and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately. The principle of transparency is linked to the fundamental right of citizens to seek, receive and impart information (which are elements of the freedom of expression), as well as the right to take part in government and public affairs. To this end, we were not surprised when this case was taken to court because we have a very strong faith in the judiciary”.

“It is lamentable that the accused in this case is a learned professor who is supposed to be a very respectable person in the society who have been found worthy in learning and character but betrayed the trust reposed in him by the state. How can he mentor the young ones who look up to him for guidance? Little wonder then, why our educational system continues to produce half baked graduates when those who were supposed to teach them are engrossed in questionable and corrupt activities. Manipulation of election results had been with us since independence and it has robbed the nation of selfless leaders who were supposed to represent their constituency and have the backing of the people in their constituencies”.

The CACOL Chair added, “We insist that, it is not only criminal and condemnable to betray the public trust that has placed such civil servant in a position of authority and control after much training, to simply betray such confidence reposed in him by manipulating election results for his personal gains without considerations of the remote and immediate consequences of his action on innocent electorates and the larger society such illicit actions may ultimately rob of desired effects. We want to commend INEC for the diligent prosecution of this case and the Judiciary for the landmark judgment. We want to believe that this case will not be a flash in the pan and other cases of electoral frauds will also be judiciously prosecuted and the culprits made to face the consequence of their acts as a just supper”.

Tola Oresanwo (Mr.)

Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL

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