A High Court in Akwa-Ibom State, on Thursday, sentenced a Nigerian professor, Peter Ogban, to three years in prison, for election fraud.
The court, which found Mr Ogban guilty of fraudulent manipulation of election results, publishing and announcing of false results, also asked the professor to pay N100,000 fine.
Mr Ogban, a professor of soil science at, University of Calabar, and a returning officer in the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom North-West District, was charged for manipulating the election results of two local government areas – Oruk Anam and Etim Ekpo.
In a previous court session, Mr Ogban had told the court how the results of the election were falsified to give the All Progressives Congress (APC) an unfair advantage over its main rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For instance, some 5,000 fake votes were added to the APC’s score in Oruk Anam, in the election.
Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was the APC candidate in the election. He was seeking a return to the Senate, after he defected from the PDP.
The PDP candidate, Chris Ekpenyong, a former deputy governor in Akwa Ibom State, defeated Mr Akpabio in the election, which was gripped by pockets of violence.
Mr Ogban was prosecuted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the landmark case.
The university lecturer, before his sentencing, pleaded for mercy from the judge, Augustine Odokwo.
Justice Odokwo, who described the case as a novel one, told the lecturer that there was not much he could do other than to let the law take its course.
He said the prosecution was able to prove its case against Mr Ogban, beyond any reasonable doubt.
Another professor also faces trial for election fraud
Ignatius Uduk, a professor of Human Kinetics in the Department of Physical and Health Education, University of Uyo, has also been charged for election fraud in Akwa Ibom State.
He is accused of unlawful generation of election results in favour of PDP in Essien Udim State Constituency election in 2019 and lying under oath.
Mr Uduk was remanded in custody in December after the court issued a warrant of arrest on him.
This is the first time INEC is prosecuting professors for electoral fraud.