From Joe Effiong, Uyo
A senior lecturer in the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Prof Ignatius Uduk, is to remain in prison for four days pending the determination of his bail application in a case of election malpractice during the 2019 House of Assembly election in the Essien Udim State Constituency of Akwa Ibom State.
Uduk, who was posted by the INEC as a Returning Officer to that constituency, which is Sen Godswill Akpabio’s constituency, had rushed back to INEC headquarters in Uyo to narrate a tale of woes of how he and other election officers were molested by the locals, leading to his being compelled to announce a fake result.
‘Violence was unleashed on electoral officers who had to escape for their safety. As a result, it would not be unexpected that the sensitive electoral materials were destroyed and mutilated such as ballot papers and result sheets. I was not spared as I also ran for my dear life,’ Aduk said in writing to INEC.
He added that he was compelled to announce a result he knew nothing about, but had to do it for his safety.
The INEC was, however, stunned when Aduk later appeared as a witness the the candidate of the same election when the matter when to the election petirions tribunal.
The Commission filed in the case that, instead of Aduk responding to their several pleas and invitations to clear his controversial volt face, he had rather written, threatening the Commission, through his lawyers, with litigation should they (INEC) further send him any more invitation on the matter.
The Commission had to approach the court praying for a warrant of arrest, which the court, presided over by Justice EA Archibong, readily granted against Aduk, after he, allegedly, had equally avoided being served courts summons, forcing the court to resort substituted service at the office of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo.
On finally appearing in court on Wednesday, Uduk had already filed affidavit asking for bail. But in a counter affidavit, the INEC had opposed the bail application on the grounds that the lecturer would not make himself available in court in future hearing based on his evasive antecedent.
The Commission insisted that ‘the accused/applicant will jump bail if admitted. His actions of evasiveness and running out of Akwa Ibom State entirely to Abuja and other places in the past weeks depict this very fact.’
The INEC also deposed to in the counter affidavit ‘that the complainant (INEC) before the filing of this charge had invited the accused/applicant for certain explanations on the conduct of this election but he also evaded the complainant’s invitation.’
Justice Archibong, after listening to defence counsel led Mr Samuel Ndah and the INEC team led by Kpoobari Sigalo, reserved the ruling on the bail application for December 12, with Aduk remaining in custody until then.