In a sad turn of events, University of Uyo Lecturer, Prof Ignatius Uduk, who is standing trial for alleged electoral malpractice when he served as Returning Officer for Essien Udim Local Government Area in 2019, was Wednesday rushed out of the court after he collapsed in the dock.
The don’s lawyer, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, had opened his defence with a first witness, one Innocent Emile, who identified himself as his nephew.
The incident occurred when the prosecuting counsel, Clement Onwuenweunor, was concluding his cross-examination of the witness, causing the court to go on recess after some stir while his wife and daughter moved him to a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Some lawyers alerted the judiciary clinic to get a stretcher but before they returned, Prof’s daughter and wife had driven out.
Before the incident, the presiding Judge judge, Bassey Nkanag, had on many occasions asked him to sit but he declined. His lawyer also informed the judge that he had also asked Prof to sit but he refused until he fell.
While the case has been adjourned to Thursday for continuation, INEC’s lawyer, Onwuenweunor, told journalists that the incident will not affect the outcome of the case even as they expressed concern about the don’s health condition. Defence counsel, Ekpenyong declined to speak with the press.
Prof Uduk is the second don to be prosecuted by INEC for electoral malpractice. The first, Prof Peter Ogban, had earlier been sentenced to three years imprisonment for electoral fraud.