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INEC vs Uduk : Court adjourns case over lack of witness’ statement

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By Theresa Ukpong

The High Court Judiciary sitting in Uyo on Monday has adjourned the case between Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Professor Ignatius Uduk.

The Court presided over by Justice Archibong Archibong said the adjournment became necessary as prosecution counsel to INEC did not include his witness’ statement.

Professor Uduk, who was the Returning Officer at Esesien was said to have allegedly declared and published false election results during the 2019 State House of Assembly elections.

He was arraigned under charge no: HU/240c/2020, on three count charge bordering on abandonment of duties and generation of false scores on form EC BE (II) on March 10, 2019 at INEC office in Afaha Ikot Ebak during the State House of Assembly elections; announcement and publication of false election result; and lying on oath at the inception of the election petition tribunal. Which he pleaded not guilty.

Speaking with the defence counsel to Uduk shortly after adjournment, Barr. Abasiodiong Ekpenyong said, INEC came to the court unprepared which was dully obversed by the Presided Judge.

Ekpenyong, who accused INEC of always coming to court unprepared, said his client remains innocent to all charges until proven otherwise.

“Today was for indefinite hearing. The prosecutors filled in their witness, but before he began, the lead counsel indicate interest to substitute charges by way of amendment. He came unprepared, and it was obvious when my lord observed that his house was not in order.

“I literally had to help him put his house in order from my own house. They have now sought the holiday of tomorrow which was the earlier date for them to now prepare, and we pray he(prosecution counsel) comes back on the fixed date prepared.

“This was the same case the prosecution opted a bench warrant against the accused and was granted. The accused person remains Innocent He came to court early enough to defence himself.

” But like we all knew what was in the other card, they came unprepared just like the would always come unprepared,”he said

Speaking, the prosecution counsel, Barr. Kpoobari Sigalo said charges filed against the accused person needed minor amendment and in the process of the amendment the team discovered that the written statement of the witness was missing.

“We came today for hearing of the matter. We actually filed our charge before the court but looking at the charges we discovered that there was a need for minor amendment of the charge.

Reacting, Sigalo said we came fully prepared, you can see our witness was in court, only that the written statement of the witness was not in the file, we thought that those things were intact only for us to discover this morning that it was not.

The Presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Archibong Archibong adjourned the case to 13th and 14th January 2021 for indefinite hearing.

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