The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has denied the claim by the Peoples Democratic Party that the convicted Electoral Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Peter Ogban, rigged election in his favour and that of his party, All Progressives Congress.
He described the claim as spurious, unfounded and malicious.
Akpabio said he was rather a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election of Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District held on February 23, 2019.
The Minister in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Aniete Ekong, in Abuja on Saturday also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of twisting the context of the judgment.
The statement said: “In their desperation in a continuing campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio, the INEC in Akwa Ibom State twisted the context of the judgment and maliciously claimed that the election was rigged in favour of Senator Akpabio.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. The facts of the case put a lie to this assertion. Contrarily, Senator Akpabio was a victim of the fraudulent manipulation of the election of Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District held on 23rd February 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.
“It could be recalled that Sen. Godswill Akpabio had approached the National Assembly Election Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the February 23, 2019, Senatorial District elections which held in Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District. Amongst those who were sued was the Returning Officer of Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Professor Ogban who alongside the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, hijacked the Election Results from the Senatorial District Collation Headquarters, Ikot Ekpene to another Senatorial District at the INEC office in Uyo, where the collated votes of Senator Godswill Akpabio were maliciously and arbitrarily cancelled.
“In that election, Sen. Godswill Akpabio’s votes totaling about 61,329 scored in his home Local Government Area – Essien Udim Local Government, having been collated, were not announced by Prof. Peter Ogban in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. Rather, Prof Ogban who served as the Senatorial District Returning Officer joined the Resident Electoral Commissioner to Uyo where the votes/ scores of Sen. Akpabio were cancelled in various polling units and collation centers of various Local Government Areas constituting Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District including 61,329 votes of his home local Government.”