The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio, has denied Peter Ogban, the University professor who was recently jailed for rigging election in favour of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
Akpabio who was the Candidate of APC in the Akwa Ibom North-West District election, was however, defeated in the election by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Chris Ekpenyong, alleged that he was rather a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted Akpabio in a statement on Saturday in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Aniete Ekong, while reacting to the claim by Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), that Ogban was working towards rigging the election in his favour.
Ekong described the claim as spurious, unfounded, and malicious.
Last week, an Akwa Ibom High Court, found Ogban, a professor of Soil Science at the University of Calabar guilty of fraudulent manipulation of the election results of Akwa Ibom northwest Senatorial District held on Feb. 23, 2019.
“In their desperation in a continuing campaign of calumny against Akpabio, they twisted the context of the judgment and maliciously claimed that the election was rigged in his favour.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, the facts of the case put a lie to this assertion.
“Contrarily, Akpabio was a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election of Akwa Ibom northwest Senatorial District held on Feb. 23, 2019.
“He is vindicated that the perpetrators of the electoral fraud are being brought to justice, at last, the chickens are coming home to roost,” he said.
Ekong stressed that Akpabio did approach the National Assembly Election Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
“In that election, Akpabio’s votes totaling about 61,329 scored at his home Local Government Area (LGA)– Essien Udim, having been collated, were not announced by Ogban in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Rather, Ogban who served as the Senatorial District Returning Officer joined the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Uyo where the votes and scores of Akpabio were cancelled in various polling units and collation centers of various LGAs constituting Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
“This was including 61,329 votes of his home LGA,” he said.
He added that the National Assembly Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal invalidated the election and a rerun was ordered in Essien Udim LGA.
“It is obvious that some persons are being haunted by the ghost of the last election which they massively manipulated to reach a predetermined conclusion, a position confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Calabar.
“In due time, we believe all the conspirators will be brought to justice as Ogban, either through the judiciary or divine intervention,” he said.
He, however, added that Akpabio had since moved on to face his present national assignment and would not be distracted by baseless and unfounded reports by the PDP hatchet men and mischief-makers.