‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja – An Abuja division of the Federal High Court, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to accept and publish the name of Godswill Akpabio, as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, in the 2023 elections.
Akpabio, a former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, contested the APC presidential primary in Abuja, but stepped down for the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who emerged as the party presidential candidate.
Prior to the presidential primary election on May 27, Udom Ekpoudom, former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG), won the primary election held on 28th May, 2022, for the Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial district.
A parallel primary election was also conducted and won by Ekperikpe Ekpo, but was later cancelled over irregularities. A rerun conducted on June 8th, was said to have produced Akpabio as the winner of the exercise.
Speaking on the development regarding the INEC list, Festus Okoye, INEC speokesperson, said the commission is not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties, if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates.
However, in the list published by INEC excluded Akpabio’s name as candidate for the election.
The INEC, had said, it rejected Akpabio as a candidate because the commission did not monitor the APC primary which he claimed to have won. Nigeria’s electoral law empowers INEC to monitor political party primaries.
But Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite, in a judgement on Thursday, in Abuja, held that INEC acted illegally by refusing to accept and publish Akpabio’s name, since it was sent to the election commission by the APC.