By Anthony Udom, Judiciary Correspondent, Update
Nigerians from all walks of life celebrated what they considered a paradigm shift last March, when a Court in Akwa Ibom State found Prof Peter Ogban guilty of fraudulent manipulation of election results, publishing and announcing of false results, and therefore sent him to a 36 months imprisonment and also slammed a fine of N100,000.00. on him For many, that landmark judgment by Justice Odokwo gave a glimmer of hope that at least, electoral offenders, no many how highly placed, can be punished through the judicial process.
Alas! That hope seems to have been deemed by another High Court Judge in Akwa Ibom, Justice Pius Idiong. In a rather curious judgment last Monday, July 12, he granted bail to Prof Ogban.
In granting the bail, the judge upheld the submission of lNEC, when he said the Convict/Applicant didn’t meet the conditions for grant of bail of a convict serving his term of imprisonment, yet he granted Ogban bail. Why? If Prof Ogban did not prove exceptional circumstance or unusual reason to be granted bail, then his bail application should have been declined by the Judge.
This bail granted by Justice Idiong has not only dampened the excitement of a revival in the Judiciary, it has also, in a way emboldened serial electoral offenders and their sponsors, that they can always escape justice, once they can find collaborators who are willing to perpetrate injustice, even in the temple of justice.
It is high time this matter is brought to the attention of the National Judicial Council, with a view to calling the erring Judge to order, else the tar of this miscarriage of justice will be on all stakeholders in the Judiciary.