The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday told an Akwa Ibom State High Court that the medical report submitted by Prof. Ignatius Uduk’s defense counsel showing that he was diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia was fabricated.
Uduk, a professor of physical and health education at the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, is standing trial on three counts of electoral fraud, involving the announcement of falsified election results, publication of falsified result lists and lying under oath.
Counsel to the accused, Abasidiong Ekpenyong, had produced a medical report from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital dated June 17, 2022, submitted by the Snr. Registrar, Dr. Akintunbo A. O., which showed that Prof. Uduk was suffering from bladder outlet obstruction (stricture) with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
At the resumption of the trial in Uyo, where the defense counsel was absent due to illness, INEC’s counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor (SAN), submitted a report from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police stating that the earlier report on the poor health of the accused was fabricated.
According to Onwuenwunor, the doctor who signed the fake medical report, which purportedly came from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, was not on the hospital’s payroll.
He also told the court that the defense counsel, who had been absent from court since last week due to health reasons, was seen in Ikot Ekpene the previous day.
He said since January when the accused was supposed to have opened his defense, his defense counsel had been using all sorts of tricks to delay and frustrate the case and he asked the court to revoke the bail of the accused.
“He had a medical challenge, but unfortunately the letter was not filed with the court as required by some Supreme Court decisions: if the court is to act on an adjournment letter, it must be properly filed with the clerk’s office,” he said.
“Also for the adjournment letter, the excuse given was obviously baseless as this lawyer who stated that he had been sick for several days was seen by one of my colleagues in Court 2 in Ikot Ekpene yesterday when I reported to court with the case number under which he had appeared.
“To show the whole world that the trickery was only to frustrate the successful prosecution of this case, we arranged for an investigation after the last date when the accused was reported sick and the medical report was also submitted.
“There is a police report from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police stating that the letter submitted on the last date was forged and that Prof. Uduk was never admitted into LASUTH and that the doctor who signed the medical report is not on the list of names of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, a globally respected institution that would never allow anyone to tamper with its records.
“What today’s trial has shown for all the world to see is that the defense is just not interested in pursuing this case and I believe they have no defense so far, that is why they want to use this ploy to thwart this prosecution but they will not succeed,” he explained.
The police report dated July 25, 2022 from the office of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police signed by both CP Special Squad and CSP Kehinde Johnson, O/C CPSS, State Headquarters, Ikeja, obtained by our correspondent reads in part, “The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital LASUTH, Ikeja from where the medical report purportedly originated was contacted and it was discovered that the said Prof. Ignatus Uduk ‘m’ never admitted into LASUTH; and the hospital has no record of him and could not carry out any medical examination on him for the various ailments claimed in the medical report he submitted, which has been proven to be fabricated.
“The medical report is not from LASUTH, it is fake and the name of Dr. A.O. Akintunbo who signed the said medical report is not on the list of names of LASUTH.”
Reacting to the fake medical report, the accused, Prof. Ignatius Uduk, said he was not privy to the matter as the case had been dragging on for too long.
“I’m not privy to what’s going on. If I was, I wouldn’t be here. Let me be taken to the medical clinic here for a test, I’m sick and dying here. This case has dragged on too long and I have nothing to do with it,” he stated.
Justice Bassey Nkanang, in his response, expressed dismay that the defense had dragged out the trial for too long, but rejected INEC’s request to revoke the defendant’s bail.
Insisting that the defense must open its defense at the next adjourned date of August 8, 2022, the judge said, “I’m not going to revoke the bail, but we must return within that statutory year and conclude the defense.”