The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told the Akwa Ibom State high court sitting in Uyo that the medical report earlier tendered by Professor Ignatius Uduk, as a reason for not appearing in court was forged.
Uduk, a professor of Physical and Health Education, the University of Uyo, is standing trial on a three-count charge of electoral fraud bordering on announcing fake election results, publication of fake result scores and lying under oath.
It could be recalled that Prof Uduk’s lawyer, Mr Abasidiong Ekpenyong had presented a medical report from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, dated June 17, 2022, and signed by the Snr. Registrar, Dr. Akintunbo A. O, testified that his client was suffering from Bladder Outlet Obstruction(stricture) Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (B. P.H).
However, during resumed proceedings on Wednesday in Uyo in which the Defence Counsel was absent due to ill health, Counsel to INEC, Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN) tendered a report from the Lagos State Police Commissioner saying the earlier report on the ill health of the accused was forged.
Onwuenwunor revealed that the doctor who was said to have signed the fake medical report purportedly received from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), was not on the payroll of the hospital, while the Defence Counsel who skipped court on ill health since last week, was in court the previous day in Ikot Ekpene.
Counsel to INEC stated that from January when the accused was supposed to have opened defence, his counsel had used all kinds of tricks to delay court proceedings and prayed the court to revoke the bail of the accused.
“He had a medical challenge but unfortunately the letter was not filed in court as required by some of the decisions of the Supreme Court that if you want the court to act upon a letter of adjournment, you must file it appropriately in the registry, that was not done.
“For the letter of adjournment also, the excuse given was clearly unfounded because this Counsel, who said he has been sick for several days was seen yesterday in court 2, Ikot Ekpene by one of my colleagues as I reported in court with the suit number where he appeared.
“Just to show to the whole world that the gimmicks going on was just to frustrate the successful prosecution of this case, is that after the last date where the accused person was reported sick and the medical report was also presented, we caused an investigation into it.
“There is a police report from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police that the letter submitted on that last day was forged and that Prof Uduk was never admitted in LASUTH, and that in fact, the doctor who signed the medical report is not on the nominal roll of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, that is a global institution that has serious prestige, and would never allow anyone to manoeuvre its record.
“What today’s proceeding showed for the whole world to see, is that the defence is simply not interested in going on with this case and I believe they have no defence so far, that is why they want to use this gimmick to frustrate this prosecution, but they would not succeed,” he stated.
Reacting to the forged medical report, the accused, Prof Ignatius Uduk said he was not privy to the matter, saying the case has dragged for too long.
“I am not privy to what is going on. If I was, I would not be here. Let me be taken to the medical clinic here for a test, I am sick and dying here. This case has dragged on for too long and I am not a part of it,” he stated.
In his response, the trial judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang who expressed dismay that the defence counsel has delayed the case unnecessarily using all forms of antics, denied the application of INEC to revoke the bail of the accused.
Justice Nkanang insisted that the defence must open its defence at the next adjourned date of August 8, 2022, saying, “I will not revoke the bail but we must return within this legal year and complete defences,”.