I WON MY ELECTION FROM PRISON, SO WHAT?
A member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bernard Udoh, has joined the ranks of politicians who won election from the confines of the prison walls. And he said there was no big deal about it.
In the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Udoh, who was kept in Uyo Prisons, Akwa Ibom State beat eight other contestants to secure the ticket of the party for the Ikot Abasi/ Mkpataemi/Eastern Obolo Federal Constituency. From the cell, he pulled the highest score of 213 votes to emerge as the winner, while the runner up got 162 votes.
For nine days before the primary, Udoh was in detention, on the order of a magistrate. The journey to detention started last December, when an aspirant for a seat in the State House of Assembly, Dr Joseph Akpanakpudo, was murdered few hours after he left Udoh's residence. Two days later, Udoh was invited by the police in connection with the murder case. He was detained and later arraigned before Magistrate's Court.
Udoh, who had been representing the constituency since 1999 spent the next 21 days in prison custody until the suspected killers of Akpanakpudo were apprehended and paraded by the police. It was during his incarceration that the primary election was held and he still went ahead to win.
'My shock was that I was being detained with others in police cell for six days and I was later taken to a Magistrate Court. When they knew that the Magistrate Court had no jurisdiction to try murder cases, then I was transferred to prisons.
'When the matter was called for hearing on Monday, we were rejected bail, but then I give thanks to God because if actually I was given bail on that Monday, now that the real killers have been arrested, as stated by the Police Commissioner of Police for Akwa Ibom State, many other stories would have been told.'
Udoh said that he and others arrested in connection with the murder were returning to the court on Friday morning, but that before getting to the court local newspapers were having photographs of the suspected killers as paraded by the police command. 'And right there, it was stated that the commissioner of police for Akwa Ibom State, said that the people before the media men were the real killers of my late brother.'
Absolving himself of any complicity in the murder of Akpanakpudo, he said that there was no reason for him to kill a fellow human being: 'Again, I was not gunning for a seat in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, I was running for a seat in the House of Representatives, my late brother was running for a seat in the State House of Assembly and therefore, there is no how I would now descend from top to the bottom.
'And that I have nine other aspirants challenging me in that race for the House of Representatives' seat, and none of them were slapped nor beaten nor even wounded during the primaries.' Reflecting on what he went through in detention, Udoh said that his incarceration was very unjustified, uncalled for, and was as a result of the manipulations of certain group of people. According him, he perceived that those behind his ordeal were the people he once defeated in his several political contests.
After all that he went through, Udoh said he bears no grudge against anybody, including the Nigeria Police: 'I thank them, I mean the Police for carrying out investigations which led to the arrest of the killers of my late brother. The world can now see that I have no hand in the murder of a kinsman.'
Udoh stated that the late Akpanakpudo hailed from the same Ward with him and also a political associate right from his university days. On why he was linked with the murder, the Chairman of Committee on Land Transport in the House of Representatives believed that it was the handiwork of his political enemies to stop him from running the primaries:
'But you see, as God would have it, I want to believe that the main motive of my being detained unlawfully was because of my primaries. They knew that there was know how that primary election would be conducted that I would not win. 'If that primary election was conducted in my constituency 200 times, I will win. If that primary election is re-run 200 times, I will win. The reason is just simple: I have not allowed any position to get into my head; I still maintain my relationship with those friends I had from 1999 till date.'
Udoh was grateful to the Akwa Ibom State government, which according to him 'did not allow illegality to outsmart sense of reasoning. The government of Akwa Ibom and the PDP knew that I actually won the primary on ground and I am very sure that my ticket would be restored back to me.'