Manipulation Of Senatorial Election: Akpabio Should Be Prosecuted-Group
A group, the Election Transparency Group (ETG), has called for the arrest and prosecution of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for his alleged involvement in falsification of results of the 2019 Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election.
A High Court in Akwa Ibom State had sentenced Peter Ogban, a professor of Soil Science at the University of Calabar, to three years in prison for manipulation of the election results.
Ogban, the returning officer in the senatorial election, was prosecuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and found guilty of altering results of the election to favour Senator Akpabio, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the election.
Akpabio contested in the election against the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chris Ekpeyong, who was eventually declared the winner, following a judicial intervention.
ETG, in a release signed by its convener, Dr. Kazeem Adekunle, asked how the INEC returning officer will be jailed while the person for whom he committed the electoral fraud is free.
However, a political analyst, Smart Chizurum, had earlier said the allegation against Akpabio was a falsehood and a futile attempt by the INEC to rope the serving minister in the conviction of Professor Ogban.
Chizurum, in an opinion article, had said, “It is very disheartening when truth is tragically buried, and falsehood elevated to high heavens in broad daylight as truth.
“If one has not followed the electoral process of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatoral District in 2019, including the attendant judicial brouhaha which was the aftermath of the election, the story of the conviction of Professor Peter Ogban and the attempt to link it to Senator Godswill Akpabio would have sounded believable and logical.
“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!”
However, ETG claimed that it is on record that Akpabio was the alleged mastermind of the criminal act for which Professor Ogban was jailed.
The group claimed: “He (Akpabio) was the beneficiary of the fake over 61,000 votes recorded for APC in Essien Udim Local Government Area where 19, 455 voters were accredited.
“It is our opinion that it is hypocrically on the side of the INEC for the commission to have prosecuted only Professor Ogban, leaving Senator Akpabio, who was the mastermind and beneficiary of the electoral fraud untouched.
“That the same Akpabio is even occupying the exalted office of a minister and member of the Federal Executive Council is an insult on the collective sensibility of Nigerians.
“It is also another clear confirmation of the deceit in President Muhammadu Buhari’s to fight against corruption.
“We therefore demand that Senator Godswill Akpabio be arrested and made to face trial for being the sponsor of the criminal act on which the executioner, Professor Ogban, has been jailed.”