Godswill Akpabio has reacted to a judgement of the Court of Appeal nullifying the election that produced him as the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district.
Recall the appellate court in Abuja on Monday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Udom Ekpoudom as the authentic APC candidate.
In a statement by Akpabio on Tuesday seen by Nairametrics, he explained that he was not a party in the said appeal even though the orders were made against him and his interest.
Akpabio’s words: He said he instructed his lawyers to review the judgement to seek the appropriate legal redress. Part of the statement said:
“My attention has been drawn to the judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, directing INEC to delist my name from its list as the APC senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in the 2023 elections. It is instructive to mention that I was not a party in the said appeal, though orders were made against me and my interest.
“Whilst awaiting a copy of the said judgement to be made available to me and any other interested party, it is important to state that I am a lawyer by training and a law-abiding citizen of this country and I am bound by our laws and judgements emanating from our courts including the one under reference.
“My lawyers on my advice and brief have commenced the scrutiny of the contents of the judgement as read, to seek appropriate legal redress. I am aware that the Supreme Court of Nigeria has the final say in these matters. I, therefore, strongly advise my supporters, APC members and all my constituents to remain calm and law-abiding, as they continue their campaigns for the successes of the APC in Akwa Ibom North West, Akwa Ibom and Nigeria at large.”
The backstory: Mr Akpabio had contested in the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primaries of which he lost to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. After losing out, He resorted to picking the senatorial tickets of the party for the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts.
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However, Udom Ekpoudom had already emerged as a candidate after participating in the primaries, which were supervised by INEC officials.
Fortunately for Akpabio, the first primary conducted in the zone on May 28, 2022, was cancelled following security infractions during the primary election. A rerun of the primary election was conducted and Mr Akpabio won the rerun poll having polled 478 votes. Subsequently, his name was forwarded to INEC as the candidate.
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However, INEC still failed to recognise Mr Akpabio as the senatorial candidate, which led to him approaching the court and filing a suit against INEC.
Though INEC told the court that Akpabio was not recognised because it only supervised and monitored the May 27 primary election and not the June 9 election conducted by APC’s National Working Committee, the judge rejected INEC’s submission and held that the consequences of INEC’s failure to monitor the election cannot be visited on Akpabio.
The trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite held that it is only the NWC of a political party that can conduct valid primaries as it is authorised by law to conduct such primaries. Consequently, he ordered INEC to accept and publish Akpabio’s name as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District.
Subsequently, INEC published the final list of candidates with Akpabio’s name as the APC candidate for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District. Not satisfied by the decision of the trial court, Mr Ekpoudom approached the court of appeal.
In its decision on Monday, the appellate court held that Akpabio being a presidential aspirant of the APC, could not have participated in the valid senatorial primary of the same party held on May 27 and monitored by INEC.
Consequently, The court ordered INEC to recognise Mr Ekpoudom as the authentic candidate for Akwa Ibom’s North-West senatorial district.