From Akanimore Kufre (The New Diplomat’s A|Ibom & Cross River States Correspondent)
A state High Court sitting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital has issued an arrest warrant against Professor Ignatius Uduk, a professor of education at the University of Uyo for alleged complicity in election fraud.
Going by an earlier scheduled court hearing date, Prof Uduk of the University of Uyo ought to have been arraigned in court on November 17, along with his colleague who was similarly accused, but he could not be located as his whereabout was unknown.
The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) which is a party in the case alleged that the professor ” appears to be on the run”.
Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice A.E Archibong, who frowned seriously upon the refusal or inability of Professor Uduk to appear in court as stated in the Order of the Court had consequently ordered his arrest.
Professor Uduk is a professor of education at the Department of Physical and Health Education, University of Uyo.
Recall that Professor Uduk was one of the ad-hoc officials recruited by INEC to assist in the conduct of the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State.
Working together with Peter Ogban, a professor of Soil Science, of the same university of Uyo who is similarly accused of attempting to rig the 2019 Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election, Uduk was said to have announced the senatorial bye-election results conducted by INEC.
In that election, both the APC and PDP candidates alleged sought to out-do each other in a fierce contest that sent fears across the jurisdiction. It was a contest between Senator Godswill Akpabio of the ruling APC and Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP.
Recall that Professor Ogban was also arraigned on November 17 and he accordingly pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him.
Curiously, Professor Uduk was said to be absent from court, not-withstanding the fact that a competent court order had previously been served on him via the vice-chancellor of the University of Uyo, on November 18 who testified to that fact.
According to the University, the VC had, acting on the court order, directed Prof Uduk to appear in court.
INEC in a statement signed by one Odaro Aisien, head of the department of voter education and publicity said, “When the accused did not still appear before the court, the matter was adjourned to the 23rd of November, 2020.”
The statement added: “Issuing the Bench Warrant for the arrest of Professor Uduk, upon the application of the Counsel to INEC, Kpoobari Sigalo, the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice A.E Archibong, frowned upon the refusal of the Professor to obey the Order of the Court.”
The case has been adjourned to December 9, with a strong directive to the police to fish out Professor Uduk and produce him in court on that date.
INEC in its statement explained thus: “Professor Ignatius Uduk, declared election results collated not by him, but by undisclosed individuals who only handed them to him to announce.
“He admitted to this fact in his own handwritten (not typed) statement that he earlier signed, even though he refused to come back to the Commission’s office for further debriefing to ascertain who delivered the prepared election results to him.
“However, in another deposition, this time in a typed written statement on oath, Prof Uduk, driven in a dark tinted vehicle to the Election Tribunal venue, surprisingly stood as a witness against the Commission, to defend the same election results he did not collate but were given to him by undisclosed persons.”