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2023: Supreme Court Restores Akpabio As APC Candidate

The Supreme Court yesterday restored former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godwin Akpabio, as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District.

The unanimous judgment, delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, favoured the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

The Apex Court upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which in September last year granted verdict in favour of the former two-term Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Saulawa, after reviewing the arguments canvassed by Akpabio, said that his appeal was meritorious and therefore was allowed.

The judgement was on an appeal filed by Akpabio challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which set aside his victory at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In arriving at the decision, the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgement said each of the 10 issues formulated by the appellant was resolved in his favour and against the respondent.

It held that the court below lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case, adding that whatever decision arrived at by the court amounted to nullity.

It would be recalled that the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had on November 14, 2022 set aside the judgment of Federal High Court, Abuja removing Akpabio as the APC candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.

A three-member panel of Justices led by Justice Danlami Senchi held that Akpabio failed to file a proof of arguments within the time provided by the rules.

The panel further ruled that Akpabio, having contested the presidential primary of the APC, could not participate in the valid primary of the party held on May 27 and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which produced Udom Ekpoudom as candidate.

But Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja had on September 22, 2022 ordered the INEC to reinstate Senator Akpabio, being the candidate nominated by the party in the second primary of June 9, 2022.

The trial court had directed INEC to accept the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs as the APC flagbearer.

Nwite also ordered INEC to publish Akpabio’s name as APC candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District for the 2023 polls, stating that the Commission acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish the former governor’s name when it was submitted to it by the party as its candidate.

He added that Akpabio was validly nominated as the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District candidate of the APC from the primary conducted by the party’s National Working Committee on June 9, 2022.

The trial Judge faulted INEC for electing to monitor the May 27 primary conducted by an illegal faction of the party led by Augustine Ekanem as against the June 9 primary authorised by the APC NWC.

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