FORMER Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has withdrawn the suit he filed in court challenging the national assembly election result in the state which saw him lose his senatorial seat to Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Valentine Ashi, a Justice of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, confirmed this development on Friday, and no reason was given for the withdrawal.
On Friday, March 1, some media reports had it that Justice Ashi issued an order restricting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from issuing a certificate of return to Ekpenyong pending the determination of the application filed by Akpabio.
However, speaking on Friday, the trial judge explained that his actions were wrongly interpreted by the media. He said that what Akpabio applied for was for a judicial review of the processes that led to Ekpenyong being declared as the winner of the senatorial election. It was the granting of the request to review the process that was wrongly reported by the media as the court granting a restraining order.
Also, it was the same application that Akpabio’s lawyer told the court on Friday that his client wants to withdraw.
Besides, lawyers say a high court does not have jurisdiction to entertain an election matter, rather, the matter ought to be heard by an election petitions tribunal.
Akpabio’s withdrawal of the case he filed challenging the election result comes just a few days after he boasted that his mandate was intact and that he would recover it in due time.
INEC had declared Ekpenyong the winner of the Akwa Ibom North senatorial seat having polled 118,215 votes to defeat Akpabio who got 83,158 votes.
But Akpabio insisted that he did not lose and there were irregularities in the collation of the election results.
“It’s a temporary setback,” Akpabio said of his electoral defeat. “I didn’t fail, I can’t fail. I believe strongly that there must have been some wrong collation somewhere. So those things will be corrected.
“We have processes in the election. It’s from one stage (to another) now. You have to do registration, you have to vote, you have to collate, and then if there’s a mistake anywhere, you go back to the court and you get your mandate. My mandate is solid and waiting for me. I can’t fail election. I cannot fail,” he maintained rather confidently.
With Akpabio’s withdrawal of the case from court, it is expected that INEC will go ahead to issue a certificate of return to Chris Ekpenyong as the Senator-elect of Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District, but whether Akpabio would go ahead to challenge the result at the election petitions tribunal yet remains unknown.