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Electoral fraud: INEC blames delay in proceeding on accused varsity don Prof Uduk

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has accused Professor Ignatius Uduk of the Physical and Health Education department in the University of Uyo, Uyo Akwa Ibom State of delaying court proceedings on a case of electoral fraud against him.

Uduk, who was the Collation/Returning officer for Essien Udim State constituency in the 2019 general elections, is standing trial on a-three-count charge bordering on abandonment of duties, announcing and publishing false election results as well as lying under oath

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Speaking after court proceedings on Wednesday at the Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, Counsel to INEC, Mr Clement Onwuenwunor, said the defence counsel delayed proceedings when he filed an application with a different suit number which requires a different file.

Onwuenwunor stated that the prosecution has closed its case since January 27, 2022, which gave the defence counsel sufficient time to put up their defence if they have any, but the defence counsel failed in that regard.

“Well, every defence counsel has a case strategy and from what we’ve seen so far, they decided to exhaust the options available to him. After the ruling on 27th of January, we expected them to come up with a defence if they have any, but unfortunately we’re seeing some form of filibustering so far.

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“Yes, he filed a case but in a different file; not in the substantive case file. So it was filed with a different suit number and a different file. The procedure of the registry is that before the Judge can handle such a file, it must come through the chief judge. So that application frustrated that case from being heard together.

“We have been ready since January. We’ve called five witnesses in this matter with an avalanche of evidence, documents and then on this side, we’re comfortable with the case we’ve presented and we have been appealing to them that there’s every need to ask for the defence to clear his name.

“As a university professor, there’s a serious need for him to clear his name so we can be done and dusted with this matter and what the constitution states is that those charged with a criminal case are allowed a fair hearing for a period of time. He has had almost five months since we cleared our case.

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“It is taking too long to conclude. If they don’t have any defence, we expect that they throw away the towel. It is not compulsory to defend the case. What is necessary is that they are given the opportunity to defend their case and if they don’t want to utilize that opportunity, then we have extra options available to us,” he stated.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang adjourned the case to May 18, 2022.

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